Theatre seasons in Kuwait have shortened in recent years, becoming confined to a limited number of performances during the holiday seasons.
Most of these performances are geared toward children while performances for adults were scaled back significantly.
Kuwaiti stage actors said they grew tired of demanding to see theatre return to what it was in the past, and acquiesced to confining their performances to the holidays.
"The holiday period, whether during Eid al-Fitr or al-Adha, became the best time for marketing plays," said actor Qadir Abdul Rahman al-Aqal, a pioneer of Kuwaiti theatre who started his career on the school theatre stage and acted in many plays during the 1970s and 1980s. "Producers are looking to make a profit or at least cover the costs of such productions, which are geared for children."
He added, "The small number of theatres in Kuwait makes it difficult for producers to put on shows in theatres that are not equipped with the most basic amenities for spectators—in particular, the seats in which they sit for the entire duration of the performance, which can last up to two hours for children and even longer in performances for adults."
Al-Aqal told Al-Shorfa that only a state initiative to establish a theatre in every province could save Kuwaiti theatre from collapse.
Actor Daoud Hussein said theatre performances in Kuwait has been confined to holiday seasons because of the country's size.
"Kuwait is a small country and does not contain many tourist destinations frequented by citizens and residents during the holidays. This applies to the cinema as well. Theatre and cinema are the only outlets for adults and children," he said.
Actress and journalist Fatima al-Tabakh, a member of the "Conscious Generation" theatre troupe headed by Professor Hussein al-Muslim, said actors are not available to perform plays all year long because they are busy filming other dramatic works.
Actor Saoud al-Shoueii said the theatre season is limited to holidays because of declining attendance that is attributable to poor quality.
"The public is not as keen on attending theatre because the works fall short of the public's intellectual level and even the intelligence of children, who know a lot in the era of technology in which we live," he said, adding that producers are seeking quick profit.
Al-Shoueii said that despite the commercial nature of current theatre, there are still producer-artists, such as Tariq al-Ali and Abdel Aziz al-Muslim, a pioneer in comic horror theatre in the Arabian Gulf, who understand the necessity of offering more appealing programmes.
Producer Basem Abdul Amir, however, said, "Theatre now is no longer what it was before, when it was frequented by the public at any time."
"The public’s reluctance to frequent theatre was the first and foremost reason for producers to stage performances during holidays and special occasions, most of which are performed for children, who are now the number one audience because they love to watch their favourite stars," he said.
Regarding adults, he added, "[Going to] the cinema has become their first inclination, so there are no longer a lot of plays performed for them."
Abdul Amir justified limiting performances to holidays and special occasions.
"Throughout the year, the public is tied up with daily commitments such as work or studying, and a producer cannot keep paying rent on the theatre throughout the year just to stage performances on the two weekend days only."
Abdul Amir agrees with al-Shoueii that the quality of the scripts available is also a factor.
"Producers must now expend enormous effort to select a good script to present during the holiday period given the banality of many theatrical works that lack intrinsic artistic value. Thus, some rely on the successes of the stars during the holy month of Ramadan to give theatrical performances without focusing on the value of the play's script—and this is dangerous," Abdul Amir said.