The Last Rehearsal by Maria Douaihy, a black comedy –
Ekher prova (or Final Rehearsal) is a dark comedy featuring a single actress on the boards. In this monodrama, the actress runs from one emotional drama to another and goes wild in dress, speech and music. Its purpose? Complete his piece. His co-star? To him. His man. There is no. As long as he answers it. As long as it has an echo. Maria Douaihy, PhD in theater studies, theater teacher at the University of Lebanon, author and actress, writes and performs her own text. The production director of the play is Shadi Habr. Ekher Prova will be played at the Monnot Theater from January 12 to 22, 2023.
Is “I love you” enough to complete all scenes of life? And he is not this man, knows him only to love? “I am a woman… A woman is a woman,” declares the actress.
A hysterical woman, an angry woman, a woman author, a woman opera singer, a woman without censorship. A woman with a thousand faces. A woman is half a woman because she loves… and when you love, one half of you is destroyed and the other half lives. It is a woman who smiles when she sees him. Who?… Is he the director? Is he her husband? To him. That’s enough.
“It’s not easy to stay behind the scenes for a long time when I know my potential,” says Maria Douaihy. “I am taking my revenge on life,” he affirms with all calmness and determination. He gains maturity from this journey, from life. “It helped me write,” he says. She also expresses her emotions like an actress on stage: “The main thing is to talk. It doesn’t matter with whom.” Whether it’s the public, whether it’s a psychologist, whether it’s him or “you”…
“I just wanted to play the lead role,” the actress declares on stage. Maria Doueihy returns to the stage after twenty years. He had to compromise on the family and material-technical level. “I’ve always wanted to do a monodrama. The last time I did ACT, I was alone on stage for my friend’s graduation play. Then I got married and life took its course. For the first time in twenty years, last year Homemade cocktail. In Al Aadiloun and Knock Knock, I had a minimal role, but it was a forced transition to return to the theater. Shady saw me inside Knock Knock, knew that I was an actress. Acting has always been my passion and I have always dreamed of playing a monodrama”. Maria Douaihy regains her mental and physical balance. “My physical pain is gone. I feel joy and I can’t wait to hear the public’s return”. As in the performance, the actress confirms: “The last time my heart opened wide, I was on stage. I felt complete for the first time.”
Regarding the idea of the play and the author’s inspiration, Maria says: “I wrote this text for a year and a half, in the middle of the pandemic, when we were isolated from the world and were alone. I started with the excuse of a woman talking to a man who doesn’t respond to her. Her answer is important to him so that he can continue his game. He invents characters to fill the void. But despite being the “transformative element” that turns his life upside down, it still doesn’t help him in this narrative scheme. “I get my inspiration, of course, from personal experience,” says Maria.
As for director Shady Habr, Maria shared her desire to direct him. “I read a text that I particularly liked. It resonated with me. Such texts are light in approach, but deep in content and exciting in direction,” he affirms. Before adding: “The same goes for directing, whether it’s a single actor or a variety of characters. It doesn’t matter if the talent is there. I do my work with ease and strength. The performances are, of course, different. But theater remains theater and directing also follows the same process. In addition, my different perspective as a director is important.
As for character building, she confirms, “We worked on the character according to different criteria. The first axis is based on her anxiety and everything she wants to say to her man. The second axis is the fact that the character is an actress. She would play a Shakespearean character or, depending on the text, it would have used too much play. Above all, we built a hysterical character who quickly moved from one situation to another.” Maria Douaihy testifies: “The author definitely has a part in the staging. The director Shadi Habr captured the nuances of the characters and built on those differences to bring things to an extreme. His reading of the text was quick and intelligent. The voices, characters, lighting and mood with each character changes.”