A branch of the Tel Aviv-based Yoram Loewenstein Performing Arts Studio is due to open in October in Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city. The project, which will have financial support from the Israeli Culture and Sports Ministry, is the initiative of Loewenstein himself, who is the school’s founder and director, and of the Israeli-Arab actor Hisham Suliman, who directs the Fringe Theater in Nazareth.
It will be geared exclusively for Arab students between the ages of 18 and 28 who live in the Galilee. The course of study will last about a year and include not only acting but also classes on such subjects as acrobatics and movement, singing and diction in Arabic and Hebrew, the history of theater and textual analysis. The faculty will include Loewenstein and Suliman and staff from the Tel Aviv school and the Fringe Theater. Tuition will be about 6,000 shekels ($1,700) for the year and classes will be held at the Fringe Theater. Auditions for admission to the school will be held in June and July.
Suliman, 41, was born and raised in Nazareth. In 1997, he moved to Tel Aviv and studied acting at the Loewenstein school. He is best known for his role in the Israeli hit television series “Fauda,” where he played the character Abu Ahmad.
“I am happy to realize an old dream,” Loewenstein said on Sunday. “I am happy to enable talented young people from the Arab community who for various reasons can’t come to study in Tel Aviv, to taste and experience the field of acting and make the decision regarding their future in the field.”
Loewenstein said he began thinking about developing such a project about 12 years ago after receiving a number of requests for such a facility but at the time, he said, he lacked someone with the vision to carry it out. He expressed the hope that some of the students in Nazareth will ultimately come to the main school in Tel Aviv to study.
“I believe in mixing cultures and am certain that there are people in the Arab community who are not exposed to the profession and that it is not accessible to them. They are exposed to television and theater but not to how it is actually carried out. All of the Arab students whom I have taght have been very talented and there is demand in the industry for these actors.”
Most of the country’s acting schools are in the Tel Aviv region. Loewenstein’s school is in south Tel Aviv in the Hatikva neighborhood.
“The more I get into the subject and see what is happening in Nazareth, the more I see that there is a lot of theater there,” Loewenstein said. “You can’t ignore the fact that most of the industry is in Tel Aviv. The only remote location with a highly regarded acting school is [the Goodman Acting School of the Negev] in Be’er Sheva.”
It is impossible to expect that there would be acting schools in Arab communities when they don’t exist in most of the country, he added. Loewenstein acknowledged that there may not be sufficient demand in Nazareth, but he noted: “Hisham spoke about the idea in the past and says that there has been a lot of interest. I always caution everyone that there are dreams and there’s reality, but if we don’t try, we won’t know.”
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