by Sherif Awad
-I was born in Pula (Croatia), 1987, where I spent my childhood. In 1995, my uncle who was director at the Istrian National Theatre opened a drama studio and persuaded me to come with him to a workshop to see what it looked like. There I got “infected” with theatre and I never came out of it again. I became a member of the drama studio and I had played in professional theatre plays, attended various seminars of acting, movement, voice … I was introduced to various theatre methods and collaborated with professionals from all over the world, from Pula to Japan. Before enrolling in the Academy, I had played in more than thirty professional performances.
-I don’t remember having role models and idols. Already as a child, I had played and collaborated with famous and great Croatian and Serbian actors, so probably this relationship quickly became natural to me. I tried to get as much knowledge and experience as possible from the professionals I worked with. I don’t remember that I had ever being fascinated with people, I admired the processes more. I was occupied by the various methods of work and the results that came from it.
-Before enrolling in the acting Academy, I graduated from the High School of Applied Arts and Design, where I gained knowledge of fine arts and artistic directions that influenced the development of all branches of art; theatre, film, music and literature. From this perspective, I can say that this knowledge has greatly helped me in my further work and education, and has certainly enriched my directing expression. I finished my basic studies of Acting and Puppetry at the Academy of Arts in Osijek (Croatia), after which I completed my MA studies in acting at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad (Serbia). I have to admit that the beginning of my studies was not easy. I came to the academy with eleven years of professional theatre experience and then I realized that I have to start all over again. As much as I thought I knew a lot of things from my long experience, at Academy I have learned them consciously and thoroughly, with an adult attitude to artistic value and work. Three years of study in Osijek gave me insight into different methods and techniques of acting and puppetry. Master studies in acting at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad (Serbia) had also enriched and supplemented my previous knowledge and experience, and enabled me to collaborate with various pedagogues, directors and actors, as well as the possibility to expand my acting career in two countries.
-I started with acting because that kind of expression and work process made me feel happy, fulfilled and alive. After completing my studies, acting became my job and my financial existence but I always tried to find a satisfaction and a way to constantly progress, learn and improve myself. For me, becoming an actress has never had anything to do with fame or goal of wanting to be popular. That’s the least that attracted me to this job. The desire to become an actor in order to gain fame is devastating to me and I don’t think people with that ambition can ever really become good actors. Because their goal is to be appreciated and important in other people’s eyes, to get instant fame. Job of actors is serious and a dedicated job, with a lot of disowns and hard work. I ended with my acting career 5 years ago and replaced it with directing. As an actress I did not have the ability to fully choose the pieces and the way they were created. In directing I have this possibility.
Directing beats acting when I stopped thinking about what roles I wanted to play and when I started thinking about what I want to say to the audience. For me, theatre should be socially engaged, ask questions, communicate with the audience, showing the world and society as it is, raise awareness and critical thinking. This is what inspires me. I do not direct plays because I want to be a director. I am directing because theatre is my medium through which I speak about certain topics and problems, and that has nothing to do with glamor, fame and popularity.
-Unfortunately, I must say that there has always been a gender difference in this profession. Men actors are often paid more than actress and they are treated differently. I’m not sure if it’s a profession thing or unfortunately the world still works that way. When you meet a man with an attitude that adheres to his principles, who is explicit in his decisions and is not afraid to oppose you will call him a brave person who knows what he wants, who is confident and worthy of respect. He is a real man. When a woman has the same characteristics, society often describes her as frustrated, with impudent behaviour and brazen. I think that society still have a lot to work to change that kind of opinion. Having an attitude and standing behind it with full coverage is something worth respecting and not despising. We will as a society move forward when we stop looking at gender, race, religion and sexual orientation, when the content of the person becomes important to us.
-I have lived a long time in Croatia and Serbia and I moved to Ireland a few months ago. I left these two countries where I grew up, studied and worked because I realized that I had reached the maximum of my progress. In the last 2 years I have been constantly coming to the wall and I decided to change my place of residence, even if it means starting all over again. Croatia and Serbia as countries have enormous potential but unfortunately the wrong people rule in those countries. Success, sacrifice, knowledge and work are not appreciated there, they want yes-men. If you do not consent to government and party games, you will not work, if you have your own opinion and attitude you will be threatened and punished. My departure was based not only on business dissatisfaction, but on the everyday atmosphere of violence and insanity carried out by the political scene. For me theatre supposed to be a weapon with who we can fight against petty bourgeoisie, immorality, injustice, ignorance, inequality and all that and those who lead society in the wrong direction, and these people in my country are the one who decide about your life. I didn’t want to waste my time and wait for something to change. I decided to make a change and leave my country behind.
-As a director most often I am in a position to offer to theatre a project, topic or drama text that I want to work on. If it is the other way around, it always matters to me that topic is close to me and my way of theatre work. My style of directing is a socially engaged theatre that raises questions, communicates with the audience, displays the world and society as it is, refresh and awake critical thinking. If the offer does not find a topic and a way that communicates with me, the audience and the society that surrounds us, or I am not given the opportunity of space and time for a mode that I consider to be of good quality and from which I believe I can achieve the best result, then I do not accept the offer. I am a person who does nothing halfway, I give myself maximum and I invest in my work a lot of energy and knowledge and I expect that from my co-workers to.
-Since I moved to Dublin a few months ago, my project is to establish a new life here. To meet new people, explore theatre scene and the film industry as well, and be open to all the new opportunities this city offers. I am also the founder and creator of a clothing brand “Great Expectations design” that I will continue to develop.