London, United Kingdom – In a big room of the Royal Shakespeare Firm’s London-based quarters, a rehearsal ensemble will get to work.
Nadim Namaan, a British-Lebanese singer, actor and author Dana Al Fardan, often known as Qatar’s first feminine composer, and a principally Center Jap, North African, and South Asian forged and crew are knee-deep in remaining preparations for Rumi: the Musical, a stage manufacturing which brings to life the story of Jalal al-Din Rumi, the revered Persian poet.
Rumi expressed his ideologies by means of music and dance, Namaan, who performs Rumi, advised Al Jazeera throughout a break from the rehearsals, “the elements of musical theatre”.
The concept for the play sprang to life when the crew determined to “take his textual content and make scenes and songs … and see what occurs,” Namaan mentioned.
Identified merely as Rumi, the Sufi poet’s aphorisms are quoted endlessly within the West – discovered within the lyrics of songs by pop stars from Madonna to Coldplay, on paraphernalia bought on-line, or scattered on social media messages hoping to encourage.
However Rumi, nonetheless the best-selling poet within the US right now because of translations of his work by Coleman Barks within the mid-70s, is usually stripped of his Muslim id.
It’s the genuine Rumi that Namaan and Al Fardan hope to carry audiences worldwide – performed by those that characterize the area he was from.
“Throughout the Center East … there are various followers of the humanities and lots of followers of theatre, however they spent their entire life solely seeing Western tales on stage,” mentioned Namaan.
“We thought we might see what would occur if we included that model with iconic figures from the humanities and literary scenes of the Center East.”
‘Play seeks to dispel stereotypes’
Al Fardan, who’s normally based mostly in Doha, hopes the play dispels Western stereotypes of the area.
“There’s quite a lot of engagement with present modern Center Jap figures which are … extremist, however you don’t get these universally accessible … stunning ideas related to the Center East [in] Western media,” Al Fardan advised Al Jazeera.
The musical is predicated on a novel written by Evren Sharma and its 20 songs are impressed by Rumi’s poetry.
The manufacturing follows an precedent days of Rumi’s life, earlier than his many many years as a poet, that Namaan mentioned helps to humanise the deified determine.
It recounts Rumi’s encounter with the mystic often known as Shams of Tabriz and its aftermath. The 2 are rumoured to have had a love affair, whilst Rumi was married with two youngsters.
When Shams disappeared, Rumi turned to poetry, writing hundreds of poems devoted to him, the Prophet Muhammad and God.
The remainder of the forged consists of Ramin Karimloo, an Iranian-Canadian Tony-nominated actor who performs Shams, in addition to different younger actors.
A primary for Hamad
Ahmed Hamad, who performs Rumi’s son Aladdin, mentioned that in rehearsals, he felt free to introduce himself with a non-Anglicised pronunciation of his title.
“Normally, there’s one or two individuals of ethnicity in musicals,” Hamad, whose heritage is Sudanese, advised Al Jazeera. “To go searching and see a full room of inventive folks that seem like you … it’s so heartwarming.”
Benjamin Armstrong, who has Sri Lankan ancestry and performs Sayyed, a pal and follower of Rumi, is making his debut on the West Finish.
“There’s nothing else that I need to be doing,” he mentioned, whereas celebrating being a part of a various forged.
The musical builds on the success of Al Fardan and Namaan’s 2018 present Damaged Wings, based mostly on a novel by the Lebanese poet and author Kahlil Gibran. That manufacturing, which returns to London in January after a pandemic pause, helped the duo uncover an urge for food for Center Jap icons.
“Dana and I as a crew we characterize … so many exchanges: one male, one feminine, one Christian, one Muslim, one based mostly in Europe, one based mostly within the Center East,” mentioned Namaan. “We need to promote that. We need to present what occurs when the Center East and the West be a part of forces.”
Rumi the Musical will likely be taking part in on the London Coliseum on November 23 and 24.