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Free theatre course offers opportunity to work with Kevin Spacey

The Middle East Theatre Academy and Kevin Spacey Foundation have partnered together to create Home Grown, the region’s first theatre programme to discover future performers


Academy award-winner Kevin Spacey
Academy award-winner Kevin Spacey

By Sharif Paget

META has partnered with The Kevin Spacey Foundation (KSP) to create the region’s first free of charge programme to discover and teach young artists the ins and outs of the performing arts.

The inaugural programme is called Home Grown, and will create an atmosphere fostering the talents of young performers and give them the necessary skills and experience and that will help them excel in their artistic field.

 “The arts have always been an essential pillar of world civilisations,” says Badr Jafar, co-Founder of the Middle East Theatre Academy (META).

Speaking about Home Grown, he adds: “The aim of this philanthropic initiative is to cultivate artistic spirit from the myriad of talented young men and women across the region [as he is] confident that a programme of this nature will give the opportunity to nurture the home-grown talents and develop them to be the ambassadors of the Arab region around the world.”

The deadline for the Home Grown project was scheduled for  15 December but was extended to the 17 December.

The intensive two-week programme, based in Sharjah in the UAE, will take place between 10and 27 January 2015. It will be free of charge for the 35 carefully selected individuals.

To apply, candidates were asked to download a copy of a selected speech from the META website and film themselves reading it in any desired style. The audio for the film should be crisp and clean and the length could not surpass two minutes.

Students in a META workshop (Photo taken from META facebook page)
Students in a META workshop
(Photo taken from META facebook page)

To qualify for the application process, one must have lived for at least the past five years as a resident in the Middle East. Interested candidates should also have a valid passport for the trip to the UAE for auditions if their video submission qualifies. As long as one has a valid passport all “visa concerns will be taken care of “ said Maha Aboulenin, communications representative for META.

Once the applicants YouTube video is shortlisted they will be invited to audition in Sharjah. The audition will be a little sample of what’s to come from the final project. Along with the audition in Sharjah, one is also expected to do a theatre workshop with other applicants and then conclude with a short interview with the Home Grown team.

 Aboulenein added: “Out of the applicants shortlisted so far a good amount of them have been Egyptian”. She did, however, also emphasise that “they have been getting applicants from every single country, from Syria all the way to Morocco”. Aboulenein goes on to say the ratio of male to female applicants “is about 50/50”.

Students with Kevin Spacey learn to develop their talents  (Photo taken from META facebook page)
Students with Kevin Spacey learn to develop their talents
(Photo taken from META facebook page)

It’s important to stress that the Home Grown team wants to ensure all applicants that have been shortlisted have an opportunity to attend the auditions in Sharjah. This is why the course is completely free. “We have plenty of sponsors and donors willing to help out,” said Aboulenein.

Seasoned professionals will help participants develop skills in performance, including voice, physicality and specific acting techniques. Academy award-winning actor Kevin Spacey will be present throughout the two-week project to lead expert classes and sit in on rehearsals for the final play. The professionals who will help the students are comprised of a “talented cast and crew, all members that have helped Spacey in the past put on Home Grown, will be the same people who will work with the this year’s students,” said Aboulenin.

The final performance will be a play in both Arabic and English written specifically for the Home Grown talent. The opening performance will take place in Sharjah on 25 January 2015 at the Sharjah Institute for Theatrical Arts.

For more information visit META’s site at www.middleeasttheatreacademy.org

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