Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Official sources from the theater and cinema division in Riyadh have put an end to rumors about the replacement of Saudi actresses by other actors from the Gulf region. There has been much confusion surrounding the nationality of the actresses from the play "Tash Ma Tash," particularly that of Layla Al-Salman who is in fact Saudi Arabian. Many believe that Layla, like other Saudi actresses, is from some other Gulf State. The play, "Tash Ma Tash" also features Shereen and number of other young female actresses. The play lasts one hour and includes a number of songs that have proved to be very popular with the audience. One of the officials from the theater told Asharq al-Awsat, "The show has been criticized by many religious figures however their wives and children come and watch the play and enjoy it! The play, which ended on the third day of Eid-al-Fitr, attracted almost one thousand people everyday throughout the Eid-al-Fitr celebrations, despite their only being 450 seats!
The source further emphasized that the show is exclusively female and that no men are allowed to enter the theater under any circumstances. Over fifty young women were hired to work inside the theater as babysitters, assistants for disabled women, entertainers and face painters.
As for cinemas, the same source indicated that the wife and children of Riyadh”s Secretary General were among the first to attend the show on its opening night, on the first evening of the Eid-Al-Fitr celebrations.
The source said that the cinema showed four movies a day over the three days of Eid-al-Fitr only. The films were bought for 300,000 Saudi Riyals. According to the cinemas figures, up to 5000 children attended over the three days.
The source further stated that the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Preventing Vice had not intervened in the broadcasting of the films. Religious women were not offended and did not complain about any aspects of the films, including the music. He concluded that the establishing of cinema and theater was a positive step and that this was evident by the joyous young faces who attended either the play or the movies.
The women”s theater and cinema was subject to much criticism by some religious figures, however, their opinions failed to influence most Saudis or the official religious authorities. Their viewpoints were mostly supported in fundamentalist forums only. The third day of Eid-al-Fitr marked by the last screenings in the cinema and the final showing of the play, however, the success of both will probably drive officials to push for a repeat of the project in all regions of Saudi Arabia.