Beirut-based Architectural Firm Wins Design Competition for Engineering Complex at AUB  
Trustee Philip Khoury Named MIT Associate Provost  
AUB and UAE Center Sign Agreement to Offer EMBA Program to Emirate Institutions  
Fourth AUB Faculty Seminar on Teaching and Learning with Technology  
New Faculty: Hussein Shahidi  
New Faculty: Kirsten Scheid  
New Faculty: Tima al Jamil  
Office of Grants and Contracts Celebrates World Intellectual Property Day  
Staff Profile: Ghaleb Halimi  
Fifth Annual FEA Student Conference Held  
Engineering Alumni Recognized for Outstanding Achievements  
Studying Biodiversity in Lebanon and the Region at AUB  
Construction Update  
Renovated AUB Archaeological Museum Inaugurated  
Renovated Pediatrics Clinic Opened  
Women's Rights Club Holds Conference on Gender and Sexuality  
Tenth Annual AUB Job Fair Largest Since Its Inception  
Letters from a New Campus by Daniel Bliss  
Winners of the Coca-Cola 'Make Every Word Count' Essay Competition Announced  
AUBMC Research Group Awarded NIH Grant  
Science Students Reveal Bonds Between Chemistry and Art  
Understanding the Political Economy of Islamic Movements  
Extreme Makeover: AUB Graduate Transforms Gulf Television  
Science, Math, and Technology Fair Promotes Environmental Thinking  
School Fair 2006: Prospective AUB Students Visit Campus  
Situation of the Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon  
Remembering the Writer, Khalil Takieddine  
Promotions 2005-2006  
Piano Recital by Arnimée Choukassizian  
Lecture on Space Exploration by World Expert  
Teleconferencing Brings Students Together Across Continents  
"Something Is Happening": Fairuz and Ziad Al Rahbani  
Cultural Genocide and Assyrian Cultural Survival  
Lecture on the History and Origins of American Islamicism  
Business School and Arts and Sciences Team Wins Soccer Championship Match by Narrow Margin  
  Red Cross Club Celebrates its 26th Anniversary at AUB
  History of the American University of Beirut: A New CASAR Course
  First Stereo-photography Exhibit at AUB  
  Photo Exhibition by President John Waterbury  
  The Cats of Renée Deek: End-of-Year Theater Workshop Performance  
  Film on Euthanasia-A True Story  
  Part Two of the CVSP Forum  
  Out of Place: Memories of Edward Said  
  Mozart and Schumann Celebrated at Assembly Hall  
  Austrian Chamber Music Duo Performs at AUB  
  Mathematician Alain Connes Visits AUB  
  Rima Khcheich Concert Plays to Sold-out Crowds at Assembly Hall
  Women's Auxiliary  
  33rd Annual Folk Dance Festival Hosts 20 Performing Schools  
June 2006 Vol. 7 No. 8

The Cats of Renée Deek: End-of-Year Theater Workshop Performance

"Cats" during the performance

The renowned Iraqi theater director and playwright Jawad Al Assadi offered an intensive theater workshop at AUB from April 18 to May 16. Almost twenty students participated in the workshop, which was offered by the English Department as English 244A, Special Topics. The project involved working with Al Assadi and Robert Myers, an associate professor of English and creative writing at AUB, on writing, producing, and performing an original theatrical piece, The Cats of Renée Deek. Deek, described by Myers as a pioneer female actress in the 1960s, is a prominent Lebanese figure in modern Arab theater, whose rich life has sadly spiraled downward with the onset of old age.

Deek posed as a nude model for students enrolled in AUB's fine arts painting classes, and dozens of the student paintings of Deek's naked and sagging old body were displayed outside West Hall's Room 204, where two performances of Cats were given on May 18. The play features five female cats: Jihan Abou Rahal, as the cat who attempts to steal Renée's make-up because she wants "to glow" like the aging actress once did; Israa Dandache, as the cat who deplores Renée's nightly excursions on the Corniche; Ansam Sinjab, as the drunken cat who has fights with Dana El Hanouni, the small pink cat; and Pascale Harb, as the cat carrying a doll and endearing herself to Renée. Two male cats, Nassim Jibai and Omar Ghosn, provide comic relief, with their boisterous acting heightened by drunken behavior.

The play suggested that Renée, played by Yasmine Agha, is not only the victim of circumstances, in which the purring of cats and the intoxication of liquor have replaced the warmth of human company; she is also the victim of her own ill-advised choices. Her lover, played by Kareem Ramadan, constantly reminds her of her promiscuous lifestyle and preference for multiple lovers. Typically, the show ends with an arresting scene, in which all seven cats assemble in the shape of a heart around a prostrate Renée, as she touchingly laments her plight and then lies completely still-presumably dead.

The laudatory reception of Cats was not surprising, given the extensive professional experience of Al Assadi and Myers. Al Assadi, who has a PhD in theater from the University of Bulgaria, is the author of Forget Hamlet, Women of War, and Hammam Baghdadi. The latter was performed for six days in May at the Marignan Theater in Hamra as part of the celebrations of Al Assadi's reception of the prestigious 2005 Prince Claus Foundation Award, which is presented annually to one international theater artist. Revealing his interest in women's issues, Al Assadi's directing credits include productions of The Maids, an adaptation of a Chekhov story, Miss Julie, and A Doll's House.

Professor Myers is also a well known playwright. His works, mainly produced in the United States, include Atwater: Fixin` to Die about the political adviser to George H. W. Bush; The Lynching of Leo Frank, which received the Joseph Jefferson Award for "Best New Work" in Chicago in 1999; and Dead of Night, about the official murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.

Myers, who during the spring term taught a graduate seminar on the making of modern American drama, commended the efforts of the AUB students who participated or volunteered in the workshop, performing multiple tasks as actors, writers, dramaturges, and technicians.