In the devastating 2020 explosion, the largest non-nuclear blast in history, all of Beirut’s theatres were destroyed. Whispers International will unite British playwrights with acclaimed Lebanese artists; all the proceeds of this online production will go towards helping the theatres rebuild and to support emerging Lebanese artists to create art once more.
Facing a pandemic, a global theatre shutdown and Lebanon’s economic crisis which was only worsened by the explosion, the hardship facing Lebanese artists and producers is unprecedented. Many lost their studios, homes, and belongings. Talented artists are being driven out of the creative industry and out of the country in order to simply survive.
Agatha Ezzedine, actor and co-producer, commented: “Beirut has always been the ultimate muse to many artists, and it would be heart-breaking to see it lose its spark and stop making art.”
Six British playwrights – Mike Elliston, Geraldine Brennan, Kate Webster, Angela Harvey, Kim Hardy and John Jesper – have offered their texts free of charge to support their fellow theatre professionals in Lebanon. Addressing important issues including mental health, political injustice, women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights, the monologues have been adapted to mirror the current situation in Lebanon and have been translated into Lebanese Arabic with English and French subtitles.
Whispers International features globally celebrated Lebanese actors including Nadine Labaki (Director of Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and César Award nominated & Cannes Jury Prize award-winning Capernaum), Georges Khabbaz (Murex D’or, Festival de Molière and Rotterdam Film Festival award winning actor), Rita Hayek (lead actress in Academy Award-nominated The Insult) and many more.
The production is directed by Beirut-based, award-winning theatre director, Lina Abiad; with over 30 years of experience, her innovative directorial style distinctively tackles controversial issues. Whispers International is produced by Josyane Boulos, the renowned Beirut-based theatre producer behind over 75 high-calibre plays and musical shows in Lebanon over the last 30 years, and Agatha Ezzedine, a London-based actor, producer and writer with 15 years of experience in the film and theatre industry. Agatha was born and raised in Beirut and has lived in the UK since 2013.
This production follows an initial successful showing in November 2020 which raised 70 million Lebanese Liras, all of which was used to rebuild Beirut’s theatres. Mike Ellison, one of the playwrights for Whispers International comments, It was a big night for me. My monologue ‘King S’ex’ was streamed from Beirut and I couldn’t be prouder as it was part of a fundraiser to help rehabilitate theatre following the terrible blast on 4th August.
Whispers International will stream online on 24 April 2021.