‘Beit Yassine’ reconciles TV public with culture
Alghad TV has introduced a new cultural show called “Beit Yassine” (“Yassine’s Home”), written and presented by Moroccan poet and broadcaster Yassin Adnan, produced by Mashhour Aboul Foutouh and directed by Hisham Abderrasul.
“Beit Yassine” is broadcast during prime time as part of a package of cultural programmes by Alghad out of an awareness that culture is key in facing the challenges in the Arab world.
The word “Home” in the show’s title is meant to add intimacy and proximity between the audience and Adnan’s guests. The programme was designed to create a homey atmosphere and a conversation between friends. It begins with Adnan greeting his guests at the door, conversing with them around the dinner table, moving to the study for tea and continuing quiet, almost spontaneous, conversations about issues that keep them awake at night.
Adnan has hosted “Masharif” for 12 years on the first Moroccan national TV channel, speaking with the foremost writers and artists in the Arab world, as well as distinguished orientalists. In “Beit Yassine,” Adnan has embarked on a different experience, looking to convey cultural discourse and artistic innovation in a more intelligent and flexible style.
Adnan said “Beit Yassine” was an attempt to “free our cultural discourse from its haughty attitude, its burdensome conceptual system and its heavy academic language” through simple accessible language to address complex intellectual, literary and cultural issues. The idea is to make the issues and culture more accessible to everybody rather than remain the monopoly of academic circles.
The programme started out of the conviction that it was possible to convey debate about cultural and artistic issues to audiences in the streets, cafes and homes. Inasmuch as the show contains exciting moments and dialogues, it sends messages to intellectuals and producers of cultural projects to open to the wider public and present their ideas in language that can be easily understood.
Adnan cannot hide his excitement about “Beit Yassine,” in which he seeks to reconcile the wider Arab public with cultural discourse that has been discarded for some time. He said television culture programming needed strong-willed and adventurous producers who believed that culture could seduce the “dear viewers.”
“We have felt for a long time that culture shows have been neglected by producers on Arab satellite channels,” he said. Unfortunately, on public channels, too, limited funds mean that culture shows are “not a priority for these channels to set aside suitable budgets for them,” Adnan said.
On the major satellite channels, “we can all see how they have placed all of their eggs… either in the basket of entertainment and video clips or in the basket of politics and religion,” he said. “Cultural discourse was marginalised and our oldest and most experienced satellite channels did not have a strategic vision of culture.”
He said he was optimistic about “Alghad TV’s strategy and its enlightening cultural aspirations.” He said Alghad officials “felt the need for cultural shows that will bring about, or at least try to bring about, a reconciliation between the wider public and the idea of culture.”
Adnan said the reconciliation should take concrete forms. “Lots of efforts must be made at the level of content and presentation first, then at the level of production,” he said.
Adnan said that “inasmuch as you find yourself required to liberate cultural discourse from its loftiness, its conventions and its conceptual mechanisms and theoretical language and bring it down to the level and language of the people, production too becomes required to support you artistically, technically and logistically so that the culture show becomes visually and aesthetically pleasing to the audience. This is how we will be able to make it fit for television.”
Given that approach, “Beit Yassine” relies on “harmony between writing and production with clear objectives” amid what Adnan described as “the general reluctance of producers in the Arab world to invest in cultural material for television.”
“Beit Yassine” promises excellent moments with Arab writers and creators in poetry, philosophy, literature, music, cinema and art. The guests cut across generations and Arab cultural geographies, from Adonis to Bensalem Hamish, from Maysun Saqr to Nuri al-Jarrah, from Waciny Laredj to Samuel Chamoun, from Salah Niazi to Talib al-Rifai, from Said al-Kafrawi to Chokri Mabkhout, from Jahida Wahba to Makadi Nahhas, from Karima al-Saqli to Khaled al-Habr and many others who will be guests at “Beit Yassine.”