Thirty-five finalists selected for participation in Theatre Academy with Kevin Spacey in January

SHARJAH: After receiving more than 300 applications from talented young people across 16 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, 72 applicants were shortlisted and invited to audition in Sharjah for the inaugural ‘Home Grown’ philanthropic theatre programme, a joint venture between the Middle East Theatre Academy and the Kevin Spacey Foundation.

After live auditions where participants performed various artistic pieces from musicals, television shows, and plays, 35 young men and women were selected to attend the academy in January at the Sharjah Institute for Theatrical Arts under the patronage of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.

Candidates were asked to submit a YouTube video of their performance as part of the application process upon which their selection was based. They were given the opportunity to meet with other auditionees in a practical group workshop which included training in teamwork, movement and physicality.

Finalists included young men and women from the United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

“Some of the stories that emerged from these young people were very interesting and showed us just how vital this programme can be to them. Every single one of the participants had a unique and important reason for wanting to take part in this programme, like gaining validation and confidence in their skills, or even just to instil themselves with the determination to possibly pursue a career in the theatrical arts,” said the Kevin Spacey Foundation team.

Participants were excited about being given this opportunity and were enthusiastic to work with youths from many other countries in the region and engage in a MENA cultural exchange. Some of the participants spoke about cultivating the skills they will learn and using them to improve the theatre landscape in their respective countries.

Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey will be present at times throughout the project and will lead expert classes for participants in addition to observing rehearsals. The opening performance will take place in Sharjah on the 25th of January 2015 at the Sharjah Institute for Theatrical Arts.