NYUAD Students in a Theatrical Production of the Ramayana at Manarat Al Saadiyat

Rehearsal of student production of the epic Ramayana.

NYUAD Institute and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, in Association with Theater Mitu, Present NYUAD’s First Student Theater Performance

Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) students will perform four shows of the classic Vedic poem The Ramayana at Manarat Al Saadiyat from March 8–10, 2012.

Presented by the NYUAD Institute and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, NYUAD students will perform for the first time on Saadiyat Island, also home to NYUAD’s future campus — scheduled to open in 2014.

The performances will present an adaptation of the epic love story between Lord Rama and his wife Sita, recounting their adventures as they encounter powerful gods, warriors from distant lands, deceitful demons, and a multitude of otherworldly experiences.

Rubén Polendo, associate professor of Theater at NYUAD and artistic director of the New York–based professional theater company Theater Mitu, is directing the 19 student actors and 20 crew apprentices with the support of Theater Mitu designers and crew. Polendo’s innovative adaptation of the classic mythological story incorporates a range of global performance traditions in the act of storytelling, such as shadow puppetry, masks, ritualized movement, percussion, and transcultural drumming.

“At its core, the story of The Ramayana is about several kinds of journeys; it is about the journey into becoming an adult, it is about letting go and about trust,” Polendo said.

“The themes in this work are so universal and can be understood across cultures and languages. It has been exciting to see students who have grown up with this story alongside their peers who are experiencing it for the first time, interact with and revisit these themes through this unique experience.”

The shows will run on the evenings of March 8, 9, and 10, at 8pm, with an additional matinée show at 1pm on Saturday, March 10. Between the matinée and evening performances on Saturday, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority will host a panel discussion at 4pm with the director and some student actors, along with a series of related workshops from 5-8pm for children, teens, and families in mask-making and painting.

Rita Aoun-Abdo from the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority said: “We are committed to creating greater awareness about a range of arts from across the multitude of cultures represented in our rich and diverse community. Indian culture has been part of the region for centuries due to trade routes, and it is therefore important for us to explore, share, and foster understanding of this story at its heart. In doing so, we can better understand and appreciate the rich and diverse heritage of this region in line with the vision of the future museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District.”

Registration for the performances is currently sold out; however there may be a limited number of standby tickets available at the door just prior to each performance. The performance is appropriate for those aged 15 years and above, while the workshops are appropriate for those of all ages.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.