Rayane Zahreddinen Faisal Younes Al-Fakhani - AUB Drama Club President
Special to Outlook
In accordance with its mission statement for this academic year, the AUB Drama Club stepped "Out of the Box," and began its journey of "Dramatizing the AUB campus". For its first project, the club decided to collaborate with "The Lebanese Down Syndrome Society," to help offer people with Down syndrome the chance to take part in a theatrical workshop happening on a weekly basis in AUB.
The idea for these workshops originated when a number of enthusiasts and parents realized the potential benefits of such an activity for their children who suffer from Down syndrome, many of whom already possessed an interest in theater and the performing arts. One of these enthusiasts was Ms.Rita Daccache. Rita graduated as a theater major over a decade ago and since then has become one of the widely renowned faces of Lebanese drama, acting in Rahbani productions and many more. Today Rita graciously volunteers her time to head these workshops and to use her experience in the acting field to benefit the participants.
The workshops themselves bring together members of the AUB Drama Club, volunteering school students, and people suffering from Down syndrome. From trust maneuvers to acting concentration exercises, everything is done within a fun and productive atmosphere, aiming to benefit each partaker. Whether you’re fifteen or thirty-five, male or female, diagnosed with Down syndrome or not, all members of the workshop are provided with a creative space. There they are given the chance to explore, interact, socialize and enhance their ability to express themselves through acting.
When asked to comment on the topic of Down syndrome and to elaborate on the goals of these workshops, Ms. Daccache said the following :
"One of the children here once said to me: "Why is it that whenever people find out I suffer from Down syndrome all they seem to say is ‘Haram’? ‘Haram’ is a word meant for poor people, not normal people like me." These theatrical workshops aim at helping individuals with Down syndrome to become better integrated in society. They are intended to enhance the participants’ abilities to communicate and make social ties through an activity they are passionate about. On the other hand, we also hope to change the general views and beliefs regarding those who suffer from Down syndrome. Society needs to realize that they are ordinary people, like you and me, with the potential to be active members of the community. If we’re successful, we might even be able to generate something concrete, like a play or a movie, but our main focus is on the workshops themselves and their accompanied benefits."
Members of the AUB Drama Club felt very privileged to be asked to help in organizing these workshops. This experience has given them the chance to grow as actors, share their love of drama with others and participate in an activity with a humanitarian cause where theater is the chosen remedy. With a considerable number of members signing up weekly to help out, the workshops will hopefully continue until the end of the academic year. After an initial success in their first undertaking for this semester, motivation and enthusiasm are high among AUB Drama Club members, who have just begun their mission of adding a touch of drama to AUB life.