Tonight, at the Drama Theater in Katara (the Cultural Village), Al-Watan Theater Company’s performance of Dana’s Love Story brings to a close the performances of the 34th Doha Theater Festival, organized by the Ministry of Culture’s Theater Affairs Center. Dana’s Love Story is written and directed by Hamad Al-Rumayhi with Assistant Director Ibrahim Abdul Rahim. The play stars Huda Al-Maliki, Fatima Al-Shrouqi, Zainab Al-Ali, and Al-Anoud Al-Khouri.

The play tells the story of Dana, a young woman who is in love with Saqr, a poor young pearl diver. Saqr finds a large pearl during one of his dives, and the divers’ captain promises him a large sum of money for it. When the captain sees Dana, he pressures Saqr to take the money and let go of Dana so that he can marry her. Dana asks Saqr not to take the money and urges him to move away from the town with her so that they can get married. Saqr yields to the captain’s pressure and accepts the money. He also agrees to break up with Dana, and the captain forces her family to marry her to him. Over time, Saqr uses the money he got from the captain to become a captain himself, and later he becomes the chief captain. Now that Saqr has a treasure-trove of pearls, the captain who married Dana goes to him one day to buy pearls. Saqr pressures him to divorce Dana in exchange for pearls. The captain yields under Saqr’s pressure and divorces Dana. Saqr proposes to Dana, but she rejects him and says, “Those who let you down once will let you down again.”

Writer and director Hamad Al-Rumayhi commented that the idea of the play came to him when he was serving as a judge for the University Theater Festival Our Youth on Stage. He later decided to write this play as a practice performance for young actresses and used it two years ago in a project sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. He was then asked to postpone the production of the play in hopes that it would be performed at the festival. Once it was decided to resume the activities of the Doha Theater Festival, he proposed the play to Al-Watan Theater Company and it was enthusiastically accepted. He added that the play takes the format of a theater workshop, as it requires specific acting and breathing techniques as well as the ability to play different roles. He promised the audience a lot of surprises.

Al-Rumayhi noted that the play includes various art forms, such as singing, dancing, oration, and acting. As for its main theme, it focuses on women rights and freedom of choice. The play was originally entitled The Pearl, Queen of Times Bygone, but Al-Rumayhi changed the title and decided to have an all-female cast in order to make the play more focused on Dana’s character and the main message.

Multiple Roles

Fatima Al-Shrouqi explained that she plays two characters in the play: Dana’s shadow and the pearlers’ captain who marries Dana. She indicated that she was initially leary about the daunting challenge of playing a male character. She said, “I was worried the audience would laugh when they see me in traditional pearling captain clothes.”

Zainab Al-Ali, who plays Dana and also the shadow, commented that her characters move from being a young girl to a strong woman who makes difficult decisions about love and money.

Al-Anoud Al-Khouri, who plays Dana in some scenes and Saqr in others, also expressed her initial concerns about the challenge of playing a male character. She noted that the play is her second experience in professional theater after several experiences in children’s theater and university theater.