BEIRUT: In collaboration with the Arab Institute for Women and the Alumni Relations Office at the Lebanese American University, the Department of Communication Arts at LAU hosted Festival NEXT, an interdisciplinary annual space for innovative, avant-garde, and experimental performing and communicative arts.
Over a five-day period, ending Friday, LAU wrapped itself with the positive vibes of those attending and working on the festival. For almost 12 consecutive hours each day, the university turned into a stage showcasing another side to performing arts and communication.
“From our curricula and facilities to our productions and research, we are dedicated to perpetual reinvention, innovation, and integration of our arts and sciences and our disciplines,” Jad Melki, Chair of the Department of Communication Arts, said in his opening words. “Among our invention is this 21-year-old festival.”
Festival NEXT officially launched on March 19 with an event dedicated to the honoring of Grande Dame of Theater Nidal Al Achkar.
“She is a ‘cultural provocateur’ by excellence,” said President of LAU Joseph Jabbra. “She is the Grande Dame of the Lebanese theater, she is the legendary Nidal Al Achkar.”
The opening ceremony incorporated the screening of “A Workshop and Five Tales with Nidal Al Achkar,” a film written and directed by Sabine El Chamaa in collaboration with Nidal Al Achkar and Lina Abyad. It was followed by a play titled “Tawlifet Nidal,” performed by Bernadette Hodeib and directed by Awad Awad and Amr Selim. Both the short film and the play were specifically produced for the honoring ceremony and they highlighted some important instants from Al Achkar’s life.
“I would like to thank President of LAU Joseph Jabra and all people who took part and contributed to this honoring ceremony,” Al Achkar said.
Another honoring ceremony took place on the last day of the festival. On March 22, Maya Mikdashi, Assistant professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University and alumnus from the Department of Communication Arts, was paid tribute too.
The aim of the Alumni Award, which falls this year under the theme of “Pioneers in Communication Arts,” is to connect the alumni back to the university and celebrate their success.
“I take this award as an opportunity to keep forwarding the values of arts, how we think, and how we practice life,” Mikdashi said after she received her award.
Beyond the honoring celebrations, the festival encompassed a series of concerts that started with an homage to the Rahbani Brothers and ended with a performance by the fusion band Arnabeat.
The festival also incorporated a number of workshops, screenings, plays, and performances that fall under the aim of the festival: to connect all strands of communication.
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