Haram!! Saudi play suspended because actor dressed up as woman
The play was cancelled immediately because a member of the cast dressed as a woman (File/Shutterstock)
A play was suspended in the southern Saudi Arabia city of Najran following a controversy over the presence of a female character, even though it was played by a male actor.
The Yemeni play Our Shared Worries was being performed for the third night in the Najran Summer Festival when a member of the powerful Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice objected to the presence of a female character in the plot.
The member said that the actor, Yemeni Nabeel Al Ansi, should not be allowed to wear female clothes and impersonate a woman as that is not permitted in Islam and pressed for the cancellation of the character of the old woman, Zinbaqa.
An intense debate ensued between the festival organisers keen on the performance and the Commission member insisting on his objection.
As no compromise was reached at the time, the actors apologised to the audience and said that they could not continue their performance for reasons over which they had no control, reports said.
Local daily Okaz on Wednesday said that the head of the festival committee had insisted, on an official request from the Commission, to suspend the play, but the Commission member said the show had to be suspended until the woman character was cancelled.
Reactions by online readers expectedly varied from full support to the Commission member for halting a play that transgressed religious norms to outright condemnation for narrow-mindedness that deprived the audience of a meaningful performance scheduled to be staged for ten consecutive evenings.
The incident is likely to put under the spotlight the power of Commission members in making public decisions according to their interpretation of events or attitudes.
By Habib Toumi
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