Jacques Maroun

Jacques Maroun

A new talent that delivers

theater up to date

An individual style gained from his studies at the University of Texas and the Actors Studio Drama School in New York City, and an absolute determination to make his mark on the Lebanese art scene through The Actors Workshop he founded… two inseparable components that characterize the director and producer, Jacques MarounSince four months, his fourth production ” Ka3eb 3aleh ” that he presents on stage , plays sold out. For or against, the viewer, hesitant or just curious at the beginning is found subsequently enthusiastic and satisfied. Jacques Maroun, the man and producer, takes the stage in this interview with Prestige.

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© Archives Jacques Maroun © Photos Farès Sokhon

Founder of The Actors Workshop, The Actors Workshop, Beirut; director and producer of the play “Ka3eb 3aleh.”

Who is Jacques Maroun? I’m an actor, director and Lebanese producer born in Beirut. I was a student at Collège Notre -Dame de Jamhour, then I continued my studies between Lebanon, Africa, France and the United States, at the University of Texas in Houston, where I got a Bachelor of Performing Arts and Management. Then I moved to New York City in 1999 to work and study acting and staging. For three years, I managed to get a Master in Fine Arts, while moving substantially between New York and other states. In 2010,I returned back home.

Why did you choose this profession? It is said that we do not choose this profession, it chooses us. When I was young, I wanted to escape reality . I was influenced by filmmakers and directors who attached importance to acting, like Elia Kazan and Sidney Lumet, and some actors like Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro , Isabelle Huppert, and Michel Serrault or Rod Steiger. I wanted to do what they did. I wanted to be part of their world. The day I was admitted to The Actors Studio in New York, was one of the happiest days of my life.

How did you form the Actors Workshop? When I returned to Lebanon in 2010, I had to work. So I started teaching at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) , and worked for a year in a  production and post- production house. It is true that it was a bit different from my background, but I gained experience. I discovered the market, the country, and my horizons have expanded. In June 2011, I founded the Actors Workshop, with the aim to create a space where the actors, playwrights and directors professionals and non -professionals could meet to practice their vocations and to exchange ideas. In fact, at the beginning, the meeting was easier with non-professionals, and with this first group, we closed the first three months of training cycle, with a theatrical production, Bare Feet , or ” Al aqdam el hafiya ” a theatrical representation of the work they have done during this period. The community of actors  then enlarged, and a month later, a new group was formed with many old from the first group and a new play was produced : ” Who’s Your Daddy ? KifaImmak ? . ” After that, the opportunity was ideal for the integration of professionals.

Is it at that time that you founded the Actors Workshop Productions? Perfectly. In April 2012, I opened the first artistic entity of its kind, the production company ” The Actors Workshop Productions ” specializing in the performing arts, dance, theater, music and cinema. And in October 2012, I produced and directed Reasons to bePretty, which was presented for three months at Al Madina theater. The play by the famous playwright and screenwriter Neil La Bute was an escape from everyday life, and wonderfully played by Talal el Jurdi , Nadine Labaki , Nada Abou Farhat and Elie Mitri .

Who is Jacques Maroun? I’m an actor, director and Lebanese producer born in Beirut. I was a student at Collège Notre -Dame de Jamhour, then I continued my studies between Lebanon, Africa, France and the United States, at the University of Texas in Houston, where I got a Bachelor of Performing Arts and Management. Then I moved to New York City in 1999 to work and study acting and staging. For three years, I managed to get a Master in Fine Arts, while moving substantially between New York and other states. In 2010,I returned back home.

Why did you choose this profession? It is said that we do not choose this profession, it chooses us. When I was young, I wanted to escape reality . I was influenced by filmmakers and directors who attached importance to acting, like Elia Kazan and Sidney Lumet, and some actors like Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro , Isabelle Huppert, and Michel Serrault or Rod Steiger. I wanted to do what they did. I wanted to be part of their world. The day I was admitted to The Actors Studio in New York, was one of the happiest days of my life.

How did you form the Actors Workshop? When I returned to Lebanon in 2010, I had to work. So I started teaching at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) , and worked for a year in a  production and post- production house. It is true that it was a bit different from my background, but I gained experience. I discovered the market, the country, and my horizons have expanded. In June 2011, I founded the Actors Workshop, with the aim to create a space where the actors, playwrights and directors professionals and non -professionals could meet to practice their vocations and to exchange ideas. In fact, at the beginning, the meeting was easier with non-professionals, and with this first group, we closed the first three months of training cycle, with a theatrical production, Bare Feet , or ” Al aqdam el hafiya ” a theatrical representation of the work they have done during this period. The community of actors  then enlarged, and a month later, a new group was formed with many old from the first group and a new play was produced : ” Who’s Your Daddy ? KifaImmak ? . ” After that, the opportunity was ideal for the integration of professionals.

Is it at that time that you founded the Actors Workshop Productions? Perfectly. In April 2012, I opened the first artistic entity of its kind, the production company ” The Actors Workshop Productions ” specializing in the performing arts, dance, theater, music and cinema. And in October 2012, I produced and directed Reasons to bePretty, which was presented for three months at Al Madina theater. The play by the famous playwright and screenwriter Neil La Bute was an escape from everyday life, and wonderfully played by Talal el Jurdi , Nadine Labaki , Nada Abou Farhat and Elie Mitri .

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© Archives Jacques Maroun © Photos Farès Sokhon

Producer Jacques Maroun surrounded by the heroes of the play “Ka3eb 3aleh” Ammar Chalak, Nisrine Abi Samra, Rita Hayek and Talal el Jurdi.

Would you tell us about ” Ka3eb 3aleh ” the play you currently present? ” Ka3eb 3aleh ” ( High Heels ) , is the fourth generation of the Actors Workshop . It was first presented at the Monnot Theatre, for almost three months and then at Babel Theater in Hamra . It is a comedy inspired by and adapted from the work of Theresa Rebeck ,Spike Heels , (written in 1992) that I created , adapted and directed , in respect of the author and the fidelity to the text. The text was translated by playwright Arze Khodr, whom I work with for the second time. It is a modern adaptation of Pygmalion, of George Bernard Shaw, who moderates the pessimism by humor. It explores themes of sexual harassment, displaced love with the possibility of creating a love triangle between four people: Talal el Jurdi, AmmarChalak , Rita Hayek and Abi Samra Nisreen. The idea dates back to 2003, when I read and worked on pieces of the first act of the play . But lately, as I thought with my friend the actor Talal el Jurdi, on a new production for the autumn-winter 2013-2014, he was very excited by reading the text of Rebeck . And thus the production began.

You rely mainly on adaptations. Where do you get the previews and what are your future projects? I am not a novelist or playwright. I am using universal themes, written by playwrights that I appreciate and respect, which I take my extracts, as the theme of love, psychology and the relationship between couples. As for new projects, I would say that my first film is in development and a new play is being prepared.

How do you evaluate theater in Lebanon? Do you think that there are many actors?but few good productions? Theater in Lebanon is poor. And not only financially .I also think we do not pay enough attention to its blooming. We have very good artists. But some good small productions per year are not sufficient to enrich the artistic culture of an entire country.

What solutions do you recommend to encourage the sector? I think that one of the solutions is among artists themselves. Let me explain. Scenic artists must take their personal responsibility , work to improve their performance, train and make their own “marketing” to better sell ( in the best sense of the term) . The schools and universities, I would recommend them to integrate the performing arts into their curriculum, since the concentration on the subject is very basic.

What is the Lebanon of  our dreams and what are your wishes? I dream of a better  Lebanon from all points of view. I want to continue to improve myself and do what I love most. Interview by MireilleBridiBouabjian