Operetta revives themes from past for a unified future

Published on 26 November 2012 in Culture
Amira Nasser (author)

Amira Nasser

A male singer shows-off his vocal talents in All Together. (Photo courtesy of Bader Organization)

A male singer shows-off his vocal talents in All Together. (Photo courtesy of Bader Organization)

“All Together,” an operetta that offers social commentary focused on events relating to the 2011 revolution has captivated audiences for nearly two weeks.   Showcased in various cultural centers and halls across Sana'a and sponsored by the Bader Development Organization, the performance uses artistic expression as a way of remembering and learning from a bloody and simultaneously peaceful period in Yemen's history.  

“Throughout 2011, Yemeni society started to come apart, and we noticed that the training courses [aimed at rehabilitation] did not affect audiences as much as [forms of] media [like the operetta], said Ahlam Al-Essawi, the Executive Manager of the Bader Organization and the  show's coordinator. “The operetta shows that our previous generations lived with each other  

without problems, and they were just part of one society.  However, currently, society is separating itself into different divisions.”

Using songs, poetry and acting, the show opens with themes of violence, fighting and weapon use, presented as byproducts of the revolution.  

“Through the show, we tried to make people relive the conditions of 2011,” Al-Essawi said.

The following performances depicts a peaceful coexistence of society's factions in the past, to serve as a reminder of a path worth revisiting. Finally, the show closes with a focus on rebuilding Yemen as a unified body.  

“We tried to establish tolerance and peace among all Yemenis.  The show attempted to demonstrate our traditions and vibrant past,” said Ahmed Boorji, the operetta's manager.

Although the show was designed for people of all ages, just as the revolution was largely driven by the youth, the show also provided a medium of expression for the young.  The youth worked directly with the show's creators to generate ideas, music and lyrics.

“I believe that there are youths who have no chances to show off their talents,” said Mohammed Al-Anessi, a composer for the show.  

Al-Essawi added that by directly involving the young in composing and writing, they will indirectly encourage their families to think about Yemen's current societal divisions and look to the next generation to lead the way to unification.  

Despite a limited budget for marketing, the show experienced a great deal of success and positive reaction from audiences said Boorji.

“The show halls were full and the audience thanked us about the show and its content, and we submitted requests to reshow the operetta in other governorates,” he said.

“We saw a high level of interaction and understanding from the audience,” Al-Anessi added.

Mohammed Al-Hubaishi, a television director and a scriptwriter said that the idea of operetta is not new in Yemen, but its concept has recently been revived.  

“Operetta has a nature that expresses ideas and problems in an easy way to the presenters and audience,” he said.

Mohammed Ali, an audience member, said that he loved the show.  He said it taught him much about Yemen's past.

“Violence is not from our habits, and I know that we have a beautiful Yemen,” he said.

The final show was held last night, but its creators have hinted at extending the show’s run.