Newthink Theater: The good, the Fun and the Different

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After hearing quite a bit about Newthink Theater, I was pretty excited about attending it for the first time, and boy did it live to my expectations! Even those who attended the first Newthing Theater event said there was much improvement. Anyway, I’m not trying to compare it to anything, I was quite impressed with the event and I found it quite different from the events attended before. It’s new, and it’s different, it’s informative, it’s inspirational and it’s absolutely fun!

First, I have to point out that it was a 3-hour event and I love this kind of events. You know, as opposed to event s that take up a whole day, those could be tiresome and sometimes you can’t attend because of work or other commitments. That said, I have to say the three hours went by quite fast in terms of avoiding boring the crap out of the audience because it was fun as I said, but it also felt like a  long time because of all the things we got to learn about and all the people that we got introduced to.

The first speaker was Hazza’a Thnaibat, the traffic policeman who can replace any traffic light anytime, anywhere. Actually whne you see how swiftly he moves from side to side waving cars to stop or move it could be hard to guess his age! A 60 year-old man who loves his job and takes it very seriously and works “from his heart”. Guess we need more of those! And if that speeding ticket you once took prevents you from seeing all traffic policemen as nothing but pure evil,  well then get this: he only give one ticket throughout his career, so far. Now you must be wishing we had more people like him, no?

Then Director General of the Ahliyyah School for Girls and the Bishop’s School for Boys Haifaa Najjar spoke. She talked about animals and the things we could learn from them, but of course not the usual things like camels and patience, it was quite different. Some people felt like they were at school, which is true, can’t blame them! Yet, I think that was the point because she was supposed to be talking about education so maybe she was giving an example of how children should be taught. Personally I like dher speech because I love/obsessed with animals and because a while ago I was writing something that relates to the theme of her speech so I could relate.

After that Hazem Malhas gave a compelling speech about identity with quite an interesting approach. He started talking about his love for food and its relation to his identity and sense of belonging to Jordan. He talked about the historical sites and ancient ruins in Jordan, stressing their importance that outweighs the importance of other profit-generating resources like oil. “If we focus more on our ruin sites we can attract millions of tourists” he said.

Thabet Nabulsi then gave a great speech about his initiative “Miqdam”. Truth be told, I still can’t describe the feelings that stirred inside me when I saw the videos of 12 year-old boys training anddoing community work together at the 1-day camp, and then there was a video where the families of those boys spoke about the difference this experience created in the lives of those boys. Nabulsi sais that with only 200 JD’s they can adopt 15 school students for the camp. This is the kind of initiatives we should support with all we have because they work with the next generation who are out hope for change and for a better future. Miqdam aims to instill values of commitment, success, sharing, and synergy not only by preaching them to children but by actual work, and play. Learning by doing, this is what Miqdam is all about. Just imagine what that could do if it was implemented on a whole generation.

Mostafa Salameh was hands down my favorite speaker. Imagine someone telling a story that starts from a restaurant in Amman, where he was a waiter, and ends on top of Mount Everest. It was fascinating to hear all about those things he experienced on the road to the +29,000 feet high mountaintop, some of those details were actually horrifying, all documented with pictures. You can’t miss that one I’m telling you, keep an eye out for it on YouTube! And of course it was super funny because it was a conversation where Maher Qaddoura, who asks the most awkward questions, asks the questions and Mostafa with his spontaneity and light-hearted spirit elaborated on the answers. I also was amazed at how many times he said the word “Shismo” by the way (which is the Arabic term for Whatchamacallit)

There was a musical performance by Aziz Maraqa and Nadine Shahwan, and of course Aziz Maraqa’s band played music intervals throughout the event. I liked the mini conversations that took place between Maher Qaddoura and Aziz Maraqa, it makes the whole thing feel interactive and friendly, not just a group of people organizing and event and forced to work together.

Then came the Roman Soldiers. Suddenly they started pouring into the theater with their armors, spears and swords. It was great I must say although I was a bit taken aback at first because I hate weapons, no matter how old they are and I remember having a gruesome nightmare once about Roman soldiers. Anyway, those weren’t real Roman Soldiers of course they are men from Jerash who work for a company that offer this kind of shows. According to them, everything is very historically accurate from their uniforms to the commands they shout in Latin. Not all of these men work full-time for that company, actually one of the part-timers works as a “Mu’athen”, the man who calls for prayers at the Mosque. He said he works for this company too because work is wok, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, or as we say: Mish 3aib.

Then Amr Al-Tokhy gave us a brief us a brief idea about how movies are made, and now news are fabricated. I think people who are into filmmaking would relate to that most since he talked about technicalities relating to cinema production and film editing.

The Last speech was by Maha Kalaji, a very brave woman, with so much faith and willpower,  who is also a cancer survivor who is stell fighting cancer. It was as positive and inspirational as it was heart-wrenching. This woman has been fighting cancer for 18 years yet she didn’t spend one day in bed even with all the chemo she was subjected to. Makes you feel ashamed of yourself when you call in sick because of a cold. Maha Kalaji has a book in stores now titled رحلة مواجهة  . That’s another speech you don’t want to miss.

Last but not least Muhammad Qawasmi gave a football juggling performance which was quite entertaining. I like that guy, he looks so down-to-earth, and he’s planning to tour the country to inspire little children who are, naturally, smitten by football. It was also impressive to see the work done byyoung people to put this event together, like Farouq (22) the guy who made all the videos of the night and Randa (24), the soul mother of the event as Maher Qaddoura describes her.

I hope we’ll have more and more of these events in the future. A platform where new, innovative and inspirational ideas find a voice, this is how change begins, this is how reform begins. In my opinion, Newthink Theater couldn’t have a more suitable name, and it lived up to it.


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