Yemeni Theater Week encourages the arts

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The Yemeni Theater Week will play its final act on Saturday, after nine days of politically motivated plays and insights into Yemeni culture, reported the Yemen Times on Thursday.

Formal cultural events, including poetry readings, theater and cinema showings, haven’t been put on in the capital Sanaa for the past few years, reported the paper.

“It’s a positive step,” said playwright Safwat al-Ghasham, who hopes to see more events akin to this soon.

“It will encourage Yemeni theater after many years of absence.”

The absence of Yemen’s cultural scene has been attributed to economic downturn by Najt Saem, the manager of the Culture Office in Sanaa.

“We should restore the role of theaters and cinemas in Yemen,” said Salem Mohammed, an audience member at Yemen’s Theater Week.

Cinematic history in Yemen

Cinemas appeared for the first time in Aden during the era of British colonization, reported the Yemen Times. In the 1950s and ’60s Yemen was home to 49 cinemas.

Today there is just one. The Alahlia Cinema in northeast Sanaa.

Does the absence of cinemas and theatres reflect Yemen’s lack of creative talent, wonders Mohammed al-Asdi, a short story writer based in Sanaa.

“How can we be a country of intellectuals when we have no cinema?”

Al-Asdi goes on to say he knows many actors, authors and talented young people in the country, just waiting for the opportunity to perform.