What you don’t know about Coulrophobia – The NDU play

“Traitors to the clowns…traitors to the crown…”

Discipline, creativity, and a mystical ideology incarnated into a musical satire is what Gaby Milky, took upon himself into producing. A teacher, a scriptwriter and an animation director at Notre Dame University (NDU); Milky created a play titled “Coulrophobia – Fear of Clowns”. It is very powerful and makes the audience reflect on the world we live in.

The entire cast and crew are from NDU, which makes it more unique. “It’s not a musical-it’s a musical-ISH satire” full of subliminal messages, in a smart witty comedy, said Gaby Milky. The director made every clown in the script an identification of a specific stereotype in this world, such as a self-arrogant king, a jealous mother who dislikes her daughter-in-law…

Maria Aoun, a journalism student who performed the role of Madame Advisor, had no clue of the content when she first auditioned for the play. The script wasn’t finalized yet, therefore auditioning was a challenge. However, when Aoun got the part she was very excited because in a way, her character differs from her real-life personality “It was fun; I’m not 100% like Madame Advisor, we have a few similarities but our differences were many which made it tough to portray”.

Trying to get all eighteen actors to commit was a challenge, but they had one common case: they became very passionate about the script and a fondness for their character developed, said Gaby Milky. “I feel a sense of attachment to the clown of clowns” said Nicholas Toubia, a radio/TV student that played the embodiment of a birthday clown. Christina Assi, a journalism student, also known in the play as Queen Innoya of Blinktonasia, wife of the King stated; “Stage acting requires exaggeration and understanding what each character needs, which is key to a good play”.

Since there are few English oriented productions in Lebanon, the cast was very excited to take part in one. A Shakespearean influence can be felt, as a clown-Shakespeare incarnate that goes by the name “Drama” portrayed by Karma Tabet, a radio/TV student, is existent. In the theater field we need to be learning more about Shakespeare because “We should have more of an English driven theater culture in this country”, suggested Gaby Milky. He said that, although Arabic is Lebanon’s main language, it is important to point out that many young men and women are more comfortable expressing themselves in English or even French. Milky said we should embrace this diversity as part of our culture. There’s always room for growth. “Whether we speak English Arabic or French, we are expressing our profound feelings…that’s the most important language”.

NDU students from different faculties are providing the props, lighting, facial art, clothes and choreography, which makes every single item authentic.

Tiffany Diab, a musicology student, composed four melodies for the play. Essentially, the director already had the lyrics ready and needed her to combine tune and lyric together. She also gave the cast some vocal training sessions. “I’ve always had a love for theater as well and getting the chance to work on something that NDU has never seen before, was what made me want to be part of this production” said Diab.

Kassandra Abdo, assistant director, a radio/TV student and choreographer stated, “This play has taught me patience. I always knew theater requires discipline and hard work but it wasn’t until I got to experience it firsthand that I got to value every second of it”. Teamwork is important in this kind of situation, but the entire cast and crew were able to unite as one during this time.

Having assisted a rehearsal, while the cast was practicing the first half of the play, it is safe to say that the team spirit is very much present. They are all colleagues who joke around, however when it is time to be serious, although sometimes it is difficult to stay in character, they manage to do so. What stunned me the most was the director: his strict maneuver strikes discipline in the rehearsals environment. If you have missed their performance, you have missed out on a great laugh.

“Traitors to the clowns…traitors to the crown…”

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