A Lebanese University’s graduate, Sara Bitar has created her own group of theatrical actors T.E.A.M in New York, in an attempt to feel closer to home even thousands of kilometers away.
Most of T.E.A.M’s plays speak of the daily lives of expats and aim to give them the voice they need as foreigners.
Sara tells Annahar, “We wanted our own theater to mirror our expatriate society; reflecting our experiences and sufferings far from our homelands. I am the only middle-eastern girl in the group.”
After the Lebanese 17 October Revolution started, Sara was very moved and by the popular momentum and the spirit of the Lebanese people.
Influenced by the events going on in Lebanon, she wrote a play called “At a Crossroads” about expatriation and the revolution.
The play focuses on the role of expats in the success of a revolutionary change even if they might be living outside their homelands. It also talks about the “alienation” expats feel when away from the important events going on in their country.
Sara wanted to show via her play that the ability to be creative and to make art is still an option, even if this art is being done outside of each person’s country.
She submitted her play to be performed at FunFest in New York and got a quick message of acceptance.
New York FunFest is a yearly fair/carnival held in Long Island. It said to be the biggest fair on the Island and Sara will be performing her play on February 7 and 8.
In mid-December, Sara landed in Beirut to spend Christmas and New Year holidays with her family. She participated in the revolution and prepared a workshop in Hamra called “Voice and Pronunciation” for actors and conversational arts lovers.
The aim of the workshop was to help those interested in expressing their ideas and personalities in a clear, free, and non-judgmental way. Sara believes that “art brings people together and unites them.”
Sara, 27, enrolled in Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York four years after graduating theater from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Architecture at the Lebanese University. Not only is she a theatrical actress, but also a writer, a singer, and a musician.
Before leaving Lebanon to the United States, she worked with some Lebanese notable theatrical names, the likes of Julia Kassar and Carlos Shahine.
She was part of the award-winning Julia Kassar play The Servants, which won first place International Festival of University Theatre Fez – 8th edition.
“I always wanted to work in Lebanon if I actually have a chance at living a decent life,” Sara explains. “I am attached to Lebanon as a language and a homeland in which I grew up in. Lebanon formed my personality and I belong to it.”
She further explains, “It is easy to communicate with the Lebanese community, whereas I often feel like I need to explain my behavior and traditions that seem weird to American society.”
“I believe that working in Lebanon is a beautiful noise in its own way; it mainly depends on improvising, which actually enriches our experiences.”
Sara also worked in Abaad NGO as a teacher, encouraging refugee women to express their feelings.
In that context, she shared: “Art helps people heal. People need to know that they should be able to express their feelings and share their experiences freely.”
“When people talk about their stories, they discover many points in common with other people. This leads them to help each other find solutions to problems,” Sara concluded.
Sara also stresses the difficulties theatrical work can be in Lebanon in the absence of an actual state.
Because of the Lebanese authorities’ nonchalant attitude, Sara believes that working in the field consists of individual initiatives, unsupported by any Lebanese official side.