– I have not seen any theater work in my entire life and I know nothing about theater
“Hekalo”, a new work by Lebanese comedian Abbas Jaafar, who seeks to diversify across theatre, film and television, and his new show is a notable success adding to his previous successes.
Jaafar spoke to ‘Al-Rai’ about his new ‘Hekalo’, his preparations and the echoes he had touched so far.
• How did the idea of the show come about?
– There is a mutual friend between me and Yahya Jaber who said that he saw me in the theater, then we all three met in a joint session and brought our points of view closer. Yahya Jaber told me, “You’re still soft dough that can be molded, and you have the talent and the will.” We set out to present a good work that rocks the world, and this is what was achieved through the show “Hekalo”.
• Do you think the “prestige” series has distorted the image of the Baalbek region and its people?
Not at all, because the “prestige” series has nothing to do with the Baalbek region.
• But does it symbolize it?
The events of the “Al-Hiba” series can take place anywhere in Lebanon, in Baalbek, Sidon, Beirut and Tripoli.
• Can it be said that you approached the theater more than others after presenting this work?
– No, but I just wanted to take the lead against Baalbek and show that I represent well.
In the theater, I liked communicating directly with people, interacting with me, listening to me, believing me and providing them with valuable content, without joking or joking. The interaction was more than amazing when I was transitioning from comedy to drama.
• Did you take the initiative to improvise?
The improv started after the tenth show. And Yahya Jaber told me, “Don’t be afraid.” We only had a rehearsal for a two hour show, and there is no experience like mine, either in Lebanon or in the Arab world, except I’m just on stage.
• Rafiq Ali Ahmed presented a similar experience?
Was the show two hours long? Since everyone is talking about “Guinness”, I will ask for my name to be included in the encyclopedia because I am the first artist to stand alone on stage and present a two hour show.
• Why did it take 8 whole months to prepare the show?
– Because we wanted to be accurate in writing the story and live it to the fullest, to then memorize, put into practice and present good and respectful content. Anyone can submit a play, complete it within a week and then exhibit it.
• How do you feel about the first 5 minutes of the premiere?
– I was very nervous before the day of the show because we didn’t conduct rehearsals and I didn’t know how long the show was going to be, and I “missed” some things because it was my first stage experience. We did the exercises at home and when we rehearsed, I stopped midway and said I couldn’t continue. Yahya Jaber’s response was, “If you die, you want it to be enough.”
His insistence was there, and in fact I got up and completed it with the presence of 5 people, then I went home and stayed up until five in the morning and repeated it 3 times. The next day, Yahya Jaber told me, “Should we delay or continue?” I answered him: “Let’s continue” and he replied: “Can we perform without rehearsals?” I said: “Yes” and the result was better than I expected.
• How did you perceive the love of the public who came en masse to see the work?
– I’m used to loving people and nobody ever told me that they have a problem with me.
Sometimes, when there are negative comments on “Social Media”, people who wish to be in my place often stand behind them, and I understand this matter and I don’t stop or give importance to it. During the show, people’s eyes spoke, and that means their love increases with the days, starting with “She AN” through “Celebrity Duets”, “House of All” and “Experience” and other works, and I have not changed and demonstrated from job to job that I am capable of presenting any job offered to me and achieving any goal that interests me.
• Have you discovered the importance of the presence and balance between cinema, theater and television?
– The artist must fulfill the offer he receives from anywhere, and if he is up to it, he guarantees its continuity, otherwise he leaves the field to others.
• There is no doubt that you are up to the responsibility?
I prefer to wait for people to judge my experience. I am thinking of presenting 100 performances of the opera and showing it in various Lebanese regions, America, Europe and the Gulf. We started accepting offers to participate in many festivals.
• Can your success in theater motivate you to focus on it in the future?
I won’t always be at the theater. Theater will be a “candy” in my artistic work, because there are other things I can do. The purpose of the show was to introduce people to Baalbek, which they knew nothing about, and I introduced it to them, and how people treat the state and the state’s opinion of us.
And if the play is successful, it will have a second part, God willing, but I won’t continue in the theater.
• How do you talk about your cinematic experience and what has cinema given you?
– Cinema gave me sweet roles that I love and I presented a successful project when I started.
At that time, the “Falcon” company had produced its first films with artist Ziad Burji, and its second film was with me, which sold 150,000 tickets, a record for a comedian playing the first film championship in his artistic life. The situation was good in Lebanon and we were upset.
Although a large number of comedians have made films, mine was the most successful film among them. I was able to prove myself in all the fields in which I was present.
• What has TV given you?
– I also managed to establish myself on television, and I started with two seconds and managed to have my own reportage, and I was also offered to present a program.
And if I hadn’t been successful in television, I wouldn’t have been in other fields.
In the coming period, I hope to improve and present works with content, because works that leave an impact are those that carry a message, and my ambition is to present this kind of work and not just make people laugh.
• In your opinion, who is the best Lebanese actor you would like to be?
It’s too early to answer this question. My experience is accumulating and I hope to increase more with the days.
• By whom have you been influenced by the artists?
• What do you think of the artist George Khabbaz?
I have not seen any of his works.
I haven’t seen any theater work in my life and I don’t know anything about theater, but I loved my experience and it resonates very positively.
I know all the actors, but I haven’t seen their stage productions.