On the 28th of March, hundreds gathered from all over the country in Medina Theater in Hamra street and chanted unanimously a simple, yet effective slogan :' ردوا المسرح عبيروت مسرح بيروت ما بموت' ( Theater Beirut never dies bring it back to Beirut). The crowd crossed Hamra street and went all the way down to Ain el Mriesseh where Theater Beirut is located.
The move came in a series of events to save the Theater Beirut , a cultural venue in operation since decades now.
Ain el Mreisseh, where Theater Beirut is located, is an area which has lost much of its old charming homes to high rise modern buildings. The area has some of the country's most expensive real estate, perhaps that why investors eyed the Theater Beirut and put it on their shopping list. Their plan is simple: buy it, destroy it, replace it with a fancy modern building that could house a few wealthy families from Lebanon and the Arab Gulf.
To prevent this from happening, a group of activists joined forces and raised their voice and concern. The movement gained momentum and organized several events which blocked the destruction of the Theater Beirut so far.
Their latest and perhaps greatest event was the aforementioned demonstration. Gladly I took part of it. It was a chance for me to voice my disapproval of of this cultural erosion afflicting Beirut and this slow transformation of Beirut into a posh residence for a select elite.
Beirut was once a cultural hub in the region, and it attracted intellectuals from all over the Arab World. Nowadays, Beirut's claim to fame is its party scene. Now I am all good with that, I like to party and hang out in pubs, but there is more to city life than that. Cities are the perfect platform where thoughts are born, exchanged, clash, rise and fall. Theaters have always been at the heart of the cultural scene of all major cities and have always been carriers for all schools of thoughts. It wasn't any different in Beirut.
I would like to join my voice with all of those out there who wish to see this cultural erosion stop, who want Beirut to be a city where ideas are expressed freely and where the power of money is used for the greater good. I know I might be hoping and dreaming, but what is life without hope?
|The Theatre Beyrouth|