Rafic Ali Ahmad, de comédien-hakawati à écrivain, toujours attachant

Rafic Ali Ahmad, from comedian hakawati to writer, always endearing

In Rafic Ali Ahmad, al-rawi al-moumassel, aala khachabat al-hayat (Rafic Ali Ahmad, the Hakawati Actor on the Boards of Life – 270 pages, ed. Arab Theater Institute), the seventy-year-old actor, director and playwright – old Lebanese tells the story of Lebanese theater and its backstage as he experienced it. But in this hybrid and lovable book, which at the same time manifests (auto)biography, commitment, confidence, story of an eventful artistic career, reflection in which theatre, television and cinema are closely intertwined, he tells his relationship with his friends on the Stage without forgetting the sets of films and TV series.

Writing in Arabic, his language of the heart, simple, elegant, sprinkled with a certain poetry and yet reserving great surprises with bitter social tips, has always been his ally. Your ally to express yourself, to defend your ideas, to concretize your ideals and to gain the attention of others. A language for questioning and dreaming of a fulfilled, peaceful, harmonious city, an image of all justice and fulfilment.

Rafic Ali Ahmad, who has always claimed to be a stranger to this republic and its political system, an ardent advocate of justice and justice, is the one who takes up with conviction and sincerity Gandhi’s formula: “I open my windows to all the cultures of the world on condition that they don’t tear me from my roots. »

Indeed, Rafic Ali Ahmad opens a window to his profession more than to his intimacy. Photo DR

Especially the theatre

The theater is still standing and attracting attention, Ali Ahmad notes in his book. Despite the failed and catastrophic situation of a country in disarray, sinking into the most appalling collapse, Beirut, the capital, rebellious to the death and defiant of all despair, continues to produce between thirty and forty plays a year, often with full halls … a play to a sold-out crowd for a few days… Perfect paradox of a country not without surprises, the best as well as the worst. “The survival of the theater is its freedom without coercive and draconian censorship,” affirms the actor. It is about witnessing, without coercion or the sword of Damocles, our cultural identity, belonging to which is inseparable from the world. Beyond these remarks, where hope is never lacking, a rich and varied career unfolds. The actor, who triumphed in al-Jarass on the boards of Gulbenkian at LAU and the city in Jounieh when Beirut was still divided, reveals his meetings, his work, his collaboration not only with Masrah al-Hakawati but also with Roger Assaf, Yaacoub Chedraoui, Mamdouh Adwan, Mansour Rahbani, Hanane Hajj Ali, Nidal Achkar…

With this book, which is actually more of a window on his profession than on his intimacy, he sheds light behind the scenes of the works that have shaped Lebanese audiences in different ways, some being vilified, challenged or quietly applauded. But in general, this outstanding and reformist Hakawati shone in his monologues, firing red bullets at a Lebanese society mired in excess in the shadow of the negligence of its irresponsible rulers. And we quote al-Halaba, al-Mouftah, Zawarib, Gebran wel Nabi, Hikm el-Re3yan, Jerssa, Wehcha… The one who portrayed on the stage the characters of a shepherd, from Don Quixote of the Arab world, a philosopher, a garbage collector, a high-ranking military officer, has virulently examined a Lebanese society that is already suffering from its weaknesses. Here, these characters are transformed into lawyers who explain the causes of their grievances, even their bitterness and acrimony, which are absolutely justified given the Lebanese social outcome. Moreover, time has proved that these warning calls, while foreboding, were unfortunately like a voice in the desert.

This son of the theatre, as he says himself, did not shy away from the art of the camera and film. On television he has appeared in successful soap operas (al-Zeer Salem, al-Shahroura, al-Hayba al-Aouda to name a few) and in cinema he has starred in (Hors life), directed by the late Maroun Baghdadi, Michel Kammoun (Falafel), Heini Srour (Leila and the Wolves), Mathieu Haag (A Scent of Lebanon).

In a fluid style and a pleasant and not without mischievous narration, this book is an excellent testimony, a source of reference not only for the adventure of an actor dedicated to his art, but also for the lesser-known aspects of Lebanese theatre. A theater that fights for its continuity and permanence. Rafic Ali Ahmad is one of his most vehement, eloquent voices. And these pages are his most striking, his liveliest illustration.

In Rafic Ali Ahmad, al-rawi al-moumassel, aala khachabat al-hayat (Rafic Ali Ahmad, the Hakawati Actor on the Boards of Life – 270 pages, ed. Arab Theater Institute), the seventy-year-old actor, director and playwright – old Lebanese tells the story of Lebanese theater and its backstage as he experienced it. But he also tells, in this hybrid book and…


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