Najat Mouftah, a 21 year old performance artist and information technology student, is the first ever Saudi woman to be cast in a theatre play. The young actress will star in the upcoming Saudi theatre adaptation of the renowned Disney film, The Emperor’s New Groove.
Organized by the Kingdom’s Entertainment Authority, the play debuted in early February 2018.
The production’s director, Amawry Azaya, told local news,"We've always questioned why women weren't allowed to perform in plays but never got a clear answer. We recently reached out to officials at the kingdom's Entertainment Authority and after looking at our script and discussing the matter with a Vision 2030 committee, they passed an official order granting women the right to perform on stage."
Prior to women being awarded the right to perform on stage, female roles were played by men as it was illegal for men and women to share a stage.
Thankfully, this new mindset comes at a time when the KSA’s entertainment industry is making momentous moves during a historic period for women in Saudi Arabia.
Najat Mouftah will always be known as the first ever female to act in a Saudi play held for the public. Shortly after the news of her casting broke, “Women on Saudi Stages” began trending across social media platforms; hundreds of Saudi’s shared their opinions on the matter using the hashtag #womenonsaudistages.
Where some attitudes conflicted on the matter, many were enthralled at the possibility of seeing more women embracing performance art and making it a career.
Ghada Al-Rashaid, a social media influencer who attended the event, said: “The actors were hilarious. And the female actor (Najat) has an amazing voice.”
Najat, the actress in the leading role, who plays the character, “Yzma”, spoke to Al Masr7 News expressing her delight in being cast,
"I've always dreamt of acting on stage and when I told my parents I was thinking of getting into the field, they had no problem with that at all and even encouraged me to follow my dream. My mother came along with me to the play's auditions and watched the entire thing. She was happy with my performance.”