On February 9th and 10th, Saudi Arabia will witness yet another first in the entertainment industry. According to reports, the show is organized by authorities and includes Najat, a 21-year-old actress, as the star in the upcoming Saudi theater adaptation of Disney film The Emperor’s New Groove.
أول مشاركة رسمية بين الرجل والمرأة على خشبة المسرح السعودي بالعاصمة الرياض .
— أخبار السعودية (@SaudiNews50) February 8, 2018
“I’ve always dreamt of acting on stage and when I told my parents I was thinking of getting into the field, they had no problem with that at all and even encouraged me to follow my dream. My mother came along with me to the play’s auditions and watched the entire thing. She was happy with my performance,” said Najat, the lead who plays the role of ‘Yzma’ in the upcoming production.
But it was not always an option for women to opt for this path as they were not allwoed to take part in staged performances. Women’s roles in theatrical productions had to be played by men because it was illegal for both genders to share a stage.
Speaking to the local news site, the production’s director Amawry Azaya said:
“We’ve always questioned why women weren’t allowed to perform in plays but never got a clear answer. We recently reached out to officials at the kingdom’s Entertainment Authority and after looking at our script and discussing the matter with a Vision 2030 committee, they passed an official order granting women the right to perform on stage.”
The new order comes at a time when the kingdom’s entertainment industry is making significant changes and also during a historic period for women in the country. Last September, a Saudi woman was allowed on stage to take part in the kingdom’s national day celebrations.