Lebanon’s Wardani twins share passion for performing

Friday 04/03/2016
Farah Wardani posing in a red dress before one of her performances (Courtesy of Nour Wardani).

Amman - “If a woman is sufficiently ambitious, determined and gifted, there is prac­tically nothing she can’t do,” American writer Helen Lawrenson once said.
The Wardani twins seem to be the embodiment of such thought.
“I am a woman who believes in strength, beauty, health, fitness and well-being,” said Nour Warda­ni, who, besides her work in thea­tre, is a full-time physical therapist.
“I believe in the power of love, and that’s what brought me to the­atre.”
Nour and Farah Warden, at 28, are active members of Wasl, a thea­tre troupe that focuses on the op­pressed.
They use their acting skills with social activism in mind.
Nour joined Wasl at the advice of her sister, who leads the troupe. Farah is a professional actress, dra­ma educator, clown doctor, pup­peteer and the coordinator of the Arab playback theatre alliance. She is the taller of the sisters at 160cm, while Nour is 156cm. Both have brown hair and eyes.
Wasl’s 17 members deliver per­formances for Syrian refugee chil­dren in Lebanon. They perform a monthly show and are involved in several other projects.
After the July 2006 Israeli war on the militant pro-Iranian Hezbollah in Lebanon, Farah said she wanted to find a way to best serve her com­munity
“I believe in this chaotic region of the world, self-expression and arts might be our only tool to build a better environment, invest our energies and revive our traditions, and the only tool I believe in and was able to apply was the magical power of theatre among youth and children,” Farah said.
She joined Laban, an improvisa­tional theatre-based organisation as coordinator and trainer. After­ward she created Laban’s social and psychological arm, Wasl.
Juggling school work, perform­ing as hospital clown and in the troupe and being a mother and wife are demanding, she said.
“Sometimes, I end up doing house chores after a very long night on stage that was preceded by eight hours of training a day but this is the only way I imagined and wanted my life to be,” she said.
“So, in the process I make sure I enjoy every bit and piece of it and do it from the bottom of my heart.”
After finishing her physical ther­apy studies and working with disa­bled children, Nour said she want­ed to learn something new.
“Therapy and theatre are both driven with love and care towards the others, and that’s why I do both with all my heart.” Nour explained.
What Farah and Nour said they did not expect was the great suc­cess of their endeavours. Audienc­es, they pointed out, are respon­sive and enthusiastic to see their performances and the number of people attending their monthly shows is increasing.
“We’re hitting 100% participa­tion most of the times, regardless of the audience’s age and back­ground,” Nour said.
In the past five years, “we’ve been tackling different topics from celebrating holidays to marital rape, bullying, acceptance, corrup­tion, civil war, integration of refu­gees, municipal work, environ­ment and other topics”, she said.
In Jordan, the sisters put on per­formances focusing on domestic issues such as wasta, the Arabic term for using one’s connections to achieve gains, and violence in universities. They have done many theatre sessions on youth needs, gender sensitivity and other top­ics.
And how do the sisters explain the shared passion? Does it have to do with being twins?
“We are more than sisters,” Fa­rah said. “We are almost identical, have the same physical look, talk and move almost the same way. We also share the same vision when it comes to raising our kids. We share the same belief system and a lot of preferences in life. Our love for theatre happens to be the biggest one of them.”