Spotlight: Rosine Saad

Image Credit: Rosine Saad/ Instagram

Rosine Saad’s infectious energy and bubbly personality has made her a powerhouse in the indie theatre community. An award-winning director, writer, and actress, she has explored different facets of humanity’s quirks, triumphs, and follibles.

Most recently, she has turned her focus to supporting Beirut’s ravaged arts community and cultural districts amid the ongoing rebuilding efforts in the wake of the massive blast that tore through the city on August 4, 2020.

“I auctioned my beautiful Tarboush to send the proceeds to the Theater Relief Group in Lebanon….to test a bigger project of auctioning artwork to aid the theatre community…I also received a lot of positive encouragement on social media, which was nice,” Rosine, a Lebanese expat based in Dubai, told Creativity Undefined.

Rosine is currently working with Lebanese artists based in the UAE to raise funds for the Theater Relief Group. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the live performance originally announced was postponed and in its place, the group will be auctioning paintings by Lebanese painters based in the UAE, which will be announced soon.

Saad explained: “The idea came up while working with friends and other Lebanese expats to help Beirut’s theatres through a one-night event because even theatres further back from the blast zone were damaged…many homes of those from the community were damaged or destroyed, and sadly, we lost an actor because of the blast.”

Rosine expressed her hope that people will now turn to supporting wider causes and groups within the city, even as shared her gratitude for all the aid and support pouring into Beirut to help rebuilding and healthcare efforts as well as philanthropic contributions, such as Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi who is restoring the Monnot library as well as supplying new equipment to upgrade the Bachoura and Geitawi libraries.

.”It’s great that Beirut’s getting support to help restore its big art and cultural institutions but we need to raise awareness for indies….many small groups, institutions, and organisations need help…people aren’t going into theatres, at least not right now [with everything that’s happening],” she said, adding that she’s confident in the resilience of artists and creators: “the arts community in Lebanon is trying to be affordable to deal with this crisis…but nothing can stop a creative mind; we’ve been creative in crises all our lives.”

Rosine in various productions

Top Left: ‘I am Yusuf and this is my brother’, Produced by Danu Dubai

Top Right: ‘Macbeth – Immersive’, directed by Liz Hadaway

Bottom : ‘Online’, by Josyane Boulos, her last appearance on stage in Beirut

Prior to the Beirut Blast, Rosine was focusing her creativity on a light-hearted Zoom-based comedy of errors Zoom In, Zoom Out that was inspired by a first-hand experience a few months ago.

“I was in a Zoom meeting for a cultural discussion and noticed that one of the other attendees was cooking during it so I sent him a private message…I ended up adding that [interaction] to my script,” she laughed.

Saad added: “I began wondering, if we were doing this, how many similar interactions are also happening in parallel? That’s how it all started.”

The script was written in 24 hours and shared with friends to overwhelmingly positive reactions. Encouraged, Rosine began reaching out to friends to join the production.

“Everything took five weeks…it was an interesting experience, especially since it was a zero budget production. The only thing I had to pay for was the Zoom fee,” Saad, who directed and edited the movie, said.

She also noted that it was a new experience for all involved because the actors had to figure out things like their wardrobe, background decorations, and lightings – things that normally taken care of by a production team.

The first performance was so successful that they added three additional views, including one for an Australian-based audience.

“We had 250 sign ups for the first showing but unfortunately only 100 were admitted into the Zoom meeting because of a technical error. Thankfully, that was resolved and everyone who wanted to see it got the chance to do so,” Saad said.

Zoom In, Zoom Out is currently being prepared for submission to various festivals. Rosine was toying with the idea of a sequel before the Beirut Blast shifted her immediate priorities.

She also revealed that she was affected by the sight of ‘ghost lights’ from theatres around the world, which is when closed theatres keep a stage light on until performances resume, when everything shut down at the start of the pandemic.

“Being creative…it always changes course and it’s always something positive. We just need to adapt…I started doing some research and I think I’m one of the first to create a movie like this,” Rosine said, revealing that the movie was also inspired by seeing musicians, singers, and other artists come together for online performances.

To those that know Rosine, creativity is an integral part of her identity, having grown up in a lively, colourful household.

“I grew up in Lebanon in shelters in the 80s [during the civil war]…my mother is a very creative person, she was the first to use recycled furniture…she would always tell me ‘if it’s different and unique then it’s yours’,” Saad recalled, adding: “My father was the manager of the Sursock Museum [in Beirut] so there were always artists and people from the arts community around me.”

Saad also proudly recalled the time that she got to recite a story on the radio – a feat for a 12 year old.

“I wrote about the summer house we lost during the war and received the highest mark in the entire school. School officials took my story to be evaluated by a committee because they weren’t sure that I was the one who had written it or if the mark was even justified but the committee approved of the grade,” she explained.

When it was time to recite her story, her mother accompanied her to the studio but made sure to look away so that Rosine wouldn’t focus on her.

“It was an exciting and surreal experience,” she said.

The acting bug bit her when at the age of fifteen a classmate convinced her to be a part of a play that they had written.

“I was surprised when people began roaring with laughter during my performance…afterwards when people were telling me how much they had enjoyed my performance, I realised that I’m funny, which gave me self confidence,” Saad said.

This led to participating in various ways on stage productions, which continued when she moved to Dubai in 2012. She quickly became immersed within the city’s vibrant theatre community, writing and preforming in various productions. In 2016, she won the Best Script Award at the Short+ Sweet Ya Welcome, Ya Welcome, a satire on bureaucracy.

Left: The cast of ‘Ya Welcome Ya Welcome’, winner of the Best Script Award, in Short & Sweet 2016

Right: Cast of ‘Lein Meta’, Short + Sweet 2017

“There so many cultures here – it’s truly a melting pot – and that means different ways of doing things. There’s Bollywood vs European vs Arabic styles, and this variety gives richness to the theatre scene,” Rosine said.

She remains optimistic about the future of the creative arts, highlighting that people are showcasing their creativity in various ways during the pandemic.

“There will always be creativity…right now, my young niece, she’s eight, saw my movie [Zoom In, Zoom Out] and decided that she wanted to her own films. That surprised me but we started creating our version of it,” she laughed.

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