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RIO DE JANEIRO: The United States team from left, English Gardner, Tori Bowie, Tianna Bartoletta and Allyson Felix celebrate winning the gold medal in the women’s 4x100-meter relay final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday. —AP
RIO DE JANEIRO: The United States team from left, English Gardner, Tori Bowie, Tianna Bartoletta and Allyson Felix celebrate winning the gold medal in the women’s 4x100-meter relay final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday. —AP

Felix hits gold record as US women win relay

By Nermin Al-Houti

Writing for children, whether literary or theatrical, is a formidable task, particularly when targeting the late childhood stage of ages 12 to 16. Today, we’ll delve into the journey of Ahmad Al-Awadhi, the visionary writer who defied the odds by writing the play “Mask Off” specifically for this age group, and also helmed its direction. Rather than probing the storyline or the exceptional acting performances, our focus lies on the myriad elements of the theatrical performance, encompassing the values embedded within “Mask Off” and how they are presented - a crucial aspect for shaping the minds of our youth and society at large.

Foremost among these values is the portrayal of the Palestinian cause, exemplified by the poignant song titled “Sourah” (Image). This song encapsulates a rich historical narrative, emphasizing the significance of imagery and its enduring impact. Through poignant visuals depicting Palestinian children and the struggles endured since the inception of the cause, “Sourah” imparts valuable lessons on history and resilience, paying homage to martyrs and cultural icons who have left an indelible mark on the Arab world.

The meticulously crafted songs in “Mask Off” serve as vehicles for delivering educational and moral messages. They address societal values that may have waned in certain communities, such as patriotism, integrity, empowerment, truthfulness and the role of media. By instilling these virtues in our children, we lay the groundwork for a society built on sound principles, poised to shape its future with confidence. The production design of “Mask Off” seamlessly integrates various artistic disciplines, creating an immersive experience akin to an “artistic theatrical box”. From set design to costumes and lighting, every element contributes to the cohesive artistic vision, enriching it with diversity and depth.

The performances by the cast are nothing short of exceptional, transcending age barriers to embody a world-class standard of acting. What sets “Mask Off” apart is the ensemble’s remarkable talent, physical prowess and synchronized movements, forming a harmonious artistic nucleus that spans generations and resonates within the theater space. “Mask Off” stands as a testament to the transformative power of theater. It reminds us that through the medium of drama, we can cultivate a more enlightened and cultured society. Gratitude is extended to all who contributed to this remarkable production, for in giving us theater, they have enriched us with the essence of civilization.

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