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The past, revisited
The past, revisited
Mariam Kirollos

BEIRUT — Located in the heart of Beirut's vibrant Hamra Street, an area that served as a hub for intellectuals in the 1960s and 1970s, Metro al-Madina is an independent theater company and cabaret. The theater was founded in 2012 by Hisham Jaber & co. from the rubble of an abandoned theater with aspirations of reviving Hamra's once-thriving theater scene. According to Jaber, the venue was formerly used by Lebanon's General Security Directorate to assess films for censorship before they could be screened. Since then, it has fully emerged as "a stage where all kinds of scenic arts can flourish," as Metro al-Madina's mission says.

Productions at the theater range from cabaret shows to plays and orchestra. The venue also serves as safe-keeper of tarab, a difficult-to-translate concept in Arabic that refers to the emotional effect of traditional Arab music. Jaber jokes that the idea of having some of Lebanon's best musicians, "the Gods of the Lebanese scene," as he calls them, dressed in costume onstage reviving an era long gone was once viewed as a wild idea.

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