JULIA DOMNA - Theatre in Arabic

Mireille Maalouf (as Julia Domna) Serena Chami (as the servant) Director: Cherif Khaznadar

Monday, 6 March at 20:30

Julia Domna ( about 170-217) born in Emesa, today's Homs in Syria, daughter of the High Priest Bassianus. She got married to Emperor Septimius Severus. Together they ruled a huge empire at the turn of the second and third centuries ( 193- 211) She was the mother of Emperors Caracalla and Geta and was famous for her quick learning as well as her extraordinary political influence. After the murder of her son Emperor Caracalla, she chose to commit suicide in 217.

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Mireille Maalouf, actress
Mireille Maalouf was born in Paris and grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. After graduating from St Joseph French University of Beirut’s Law School, she trained as an actress under the direction of Lebanese director Mounir A. Debs before joining his theatre company. She performed in most of his Arabic productions of Sophocles, Euripides, Shakespeare, and Dostoievski playing parts such as Antigone, Jocasta, Lady Macbeth, Gertrude, or Maria Lebiadkin. In 1972 she performed and toured in “Le Déluge” with Debs company which won the price for best play at the East Berlin Festival 72. She then played the part of Hala in Maroun Bagdadi’s Beyrouth Ya Beyrouth
In 1974 she joined Peter Brook’s company in Paris. She played in several Brook’s productions including Measure for Measure, Ubu Rex, The Conference of the Birds, The Mahabharata, with which she toured internationally (USA, South America, Australia, Europe, Japan…) playing in both English and French language. During that time she also took part in various French productions in Paris including Bernard Sobel’s production of King John in which she played Eleanor of Aquitaine.
In 1981, despite the raging Civil War that took place in Lebanon, she returned to Beirut and worked in many TV, radio, and theatre productions. Plays in the 90’s include the title role in Sherif Khaznadar production of Julia Domna and Michael Frayn’s Noises Off.
In 2000, she’s awarded Best Modern Actress of the Arab World at Cairo’s International Theatre Festival for her performance in Julia Domna. More recently, in 2010, a tribute was paid to her in Damascus where she received an Outstanding Achievement Award for her career.
Back to Paris in 2009 she performed in Racine’s Bérénice directed by Lambert Wilson at the Bouffes du Nord.
In 2010 she took part in Giles Terera’s work in progress at the National Theatre Studio that are part of his forthcoming film Muse of Fire.
In 2011 she performed in Women in War written and directed by Jawad el Assad that premiered in Theatre Babel, Beirut.
She then joined Irina Brook’s theatre company to take on the part of Ase in Ibsen’s Peer Gynt which premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2012 and to perform in La Vie Matérielle by Margueritte Duras in 2013 at the Théâtre National de Nice.
In 2014, she starred in the film Go Home directed by Jihane Chouaib, in competition at Busan Film Festival and Dubai International Film Festival.
She is currently on tour with two productions: Peer Gynt and La Vie Matérielle.

• 2nd appearance at the Al Bustan Festival

Serena Chami, actress
Serena Chami is a theater graduate from the fine arts institute of the Lebanese University. She is active in this field through her work in the Lebanese puppet theatre and through her work with “Ibtisama Organization” as a Clown Doctor. Moreover, she has acted in several roles in theater,cinema and TV. Her desire to discover new horizons drives her to participate in diverse projects and different streams.

Chérif Khaznadar, director
Chérif Khaznadar was born in Aleppo in Syria in 1940.
From 1958 to 1959 he studied in the United States.
From 1959 to 1962, he pursued his Business Administration at the American University of Beirut;  at the same time he is literary and dramatic critic of L’Orient litteraire.

In 1961 he was the first President of the Academic Center for Drama Studies at the École des Lettres and took part in the creation of the French-language television newscast of Télé Orient Canal 11 in Beirut. In 1962, in Paris, he studied at the National Popular Theater of Jean Vilar.

But 1962 is also the year when, with Françoise Gründ (who will become his wife), he follows the teaching of the University of the Theater of Nations. This is where the first confrontation with cultures  took place, with “the experience of the various”. It is also the birth of a long and faithful friendship with Claude Planson. To pay for his studies, he collaborated on the Arabic language programs of the ORTF. From 1963 to 1964, he was an expert and director at the Ministry of Culture in Syria, director and interim director of Syrian television artistic troops.

From 1963 to 1965, he was also a member of the Supreme Council of Arts and Letters and Social Sciences in Syria.

From 1965 to 1966, in Tunisia, first assistant director of the Center of high theater studies (director Claude Planson) at the International Cultural Center of Hammamet, then director of the Theater and Center of Hammamet. 1966, first Orient-Occident symposium in India. This is the real shock of the encounter with spectacular oriental forms.

In 1967 he made a study for UNESCO on theater, cinema, radio and television in the Arab world, followed by a book on Arab theater, and a book in collaboration with Jean Tardieu on the radio.

From 1968 to 1973, he was a dramatic critic at the ORTF Drama Department.

From 1974 to 1982, he was director of the Maison de la culture in Rennes. Creation of the Café-Théâtre Festival, the Théâtre en marche, the Rencontres du cinema militant and the International Encounters of Today’s Musical Theater, focusing on the confrontation of international cultures in the field of music, dance and theater.

1974 was also the year of the Festival of Traditional Arts (10 editions until 1983). The creation of this festival will forever mark the French and European cultural landscape.

From 1978 to 1983, he also directed the new Théâtre de la Ville in Rennes, where he discovered forgotten masterpieces: the world’s first opera, Eurydice by Giulio Caccini, Tancredi by Gioachino Rossini, The Sorcerer by Philidor , And creations such as La Lune vague by René Koering.

The creation of la Maison des Cultures du Monde
In July 1982, he left Rennes and embarked on a new adventure by founding (with the support of the Ministry of Culture) the Maison des cultures du monde in Paris, which he managed until 200

It directs the activities towards the search for the genius of the peoples: music, theaters, dances, rituals belonging to the tradition but also contemporary creations, anthropological exhibitions and contemporary art.

Maison des Cultures du Monde presents shows, but Chérif Khaznadar also organized events such as the Mela of the Year of India in France, the Carnival of Venice in the Palais Royal, Sacred Music in the Pantheon.
In 1988, Chérif Khaznadar became a member of the National Council of Regional Languages ​​and Cultures. In 1990 and 1991 he was Commissary General of Le Temps du Maroc in France. From 1992 to 1994, he succeeded Jean-Louis Barrault in the direction of the Théâtre du Rond-Point.
Since 1997, Chérif Khaznadar is the chairman of the Culture Committee of the French National Commission for UNESCO. In this capacity, he participated in numerous international meetings, of which, at present, as a government expert, those on the intangible cultural heritage.

Julia Domna ( about 170-217) born in Emesa, today Homs in Syria, daughter of the High Priest Bassianus. She got married at the age of 25 to Emperor Septimius Severus. Together they ruled a huge empire at the turn of the second and third centuries ( 193- 211)

She was the mother of Emperors Caracalla and Geta and was famous for her quick learning as well as her extraordinary political influence.

After the murder of her son Emperor Caracalla, she chose to commit suicide in 217.

Chérif Khaznadar, President of the House of world Cultures and his wife Françoise Grund, who also designed the costumes and decoration, have signed this two actors play:
Julia Domna, Empress of Rome ,played by Mireille Maalouf and the dancing dumb servant by Serena Chami.

The play is divided into 11 scenes and present itself as a great ritual.

Julia Domna is depicted in a grotto next to the statue of goddess Ishtar of whom she spread the cult. Features of the Empress are shown alternately as a powerful and fragile woman, a wife and a wounded mother who sacrified herself on the altar of her family’s interest.