Lebanon’s Wardani twins share passion for performing
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.”