The Allure of a Ritual: Celebrating Hajj through the Arts
27 July 2020
DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA, MARCH 27, 2020 – The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) has created Saudi Arabia’s go-to theater. The Ithra Theater, which opened to the public in 2018, is a state-of-the-art facility for staging international and regional productions. Ithra Theater has delivered a broad range of cultural perspectives by staging 22 professional productions from around the world.
World Theater Day is an important occasion for Ithra Theater to commemorate. It underscores a major cultural advancement that the Kingdom can now embrace and celebrate. Ithra is built on five pillars: Art, Knowledge, Creativity, Community and Culture. As the leading cultural destination in Saudi Arabia, Ithra relies on the Theater as a key connection to global cultures. With the country’s creative fields expanding at an unprecedented rate, the Theater highlights emerging local talent as well as internationally renowned artists and productions. World Theater Day was initiated in 1961 and 59 years later, Ithra is opening a new Saudi chapter in the theater arts.
The Ithra Theater is visited by 30,000 audience members every year from different parts of the world for its cultural-artistic performances. Ithra Theater aims to foster Saudi theater through supporting writers, directors, and actors, as well as by offering training and bringing performing arts from around the world to the Kingdom. Ithra Theater has staged Saudi works as well as productions from Vietnam, Japan, Italy, India, Russia, USA and neighboring Gulf countries.
In line with Ithra’s mission to enrich and elevate the Kingdom through culture and the arts, Ithra Theater launched the Ithra School Theater program. This program provides extensive training for teachers to help them produce theater works in schools. It is a four-week program and aims to make theater a part of students' lives to help elevate their social and educational goals. Ithra School Theater programs aim to train 40 teachers annually from the Eastern Province school system.
To date, Ithra Theater has hosted an impressive slate of performances, including A Tribute to Asmahan and Umm Kulthum and an Argentinian thrill with Che Malambo along with many other theatrical troupes from across the globe. This World Theater Day arrives at a tough time for theaters and audiences – social distancing is important but it doesn’t allow for live performances – but it is a time to reflect on Ithra Theater’s accomplishments and what comes next: And stay tuned to Ithra Connect, Ithra’s new virtual culture platform, for example, and watch out for programs such as the Ithra Theater Society meeting online, virtual theater lessons and a link to the 2020 World Theater Day letter by eminent Pakistani playwright and IAC professor Shahid Nadeem.