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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Sesame Street’s Arab casting call

Bosses at Iftah Ya Simsim are on the hunt for actors, singers and dancers to join the cast and become puppeteers and help to entertain and educate children throughout the region
Cookie Monster, singing, full body pose, facing forward. (Photo courtesy-BidayaMedia)
Cookie Monster, singing, full body pose, facing forward. (Photo courtesy-BidayaMedia)

ABU DHABI // Auditions for local talent to star on Iftah Ya Simsim, the Arabic version of Sesame Street, are due to be held in April.

The show’s bosses are on the hunt for actors, singers and dancers to join the cast and become puppeteers in helping entertain and educate children throughout the region.

Produced by Bidaya Media and twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s media zone, Iftah Ya Simsim is expected to make its television debut across the GCC this year.

There will be at least seven positions open to male and female candidates, all of whom must speak Arabic but are not required to have prior acting or performing experience.

Candidates are asked to send video submissions to Bidaya Media to secure an audition slot.

“We are looking for talented people who have the ability to change their voices, to move, dance, be creative, sing and be flexible,” said Nayla Tawfik, an associate producer at Bidaya Media, who will be overseeing the selection process.

“This is a golden opportunity for developing children’s material. They will be trained by people who have been puppeteers for over 30 years,” she said.

The Iftah Ya Simsim production staff have close ties with the original Sesame Street, and trained with the show’s United States-based writers last year. The local team is keen to encourage GCC nationals to get involved with the programme, and inspire the next generation of acting talent.

“We have been in the design phase for over a year with input from child development experts, educators and cultural consultants,” said Abdulla Al Sharhan, the show’s creative director.

“Now all this great work must be interpreted into a creative vision that will deliver playful learning, fun and laughter through our muppets to our children. It is truly a thrill and an honour to be part of this great education and entertainment experiment.”

Mr Al Sharhan said despite the fun and family-friendly nature of the show, this was a career opportunity that should be taken seriously.

“This is a career job,” he said. “If you are familiar with Sesame Street some of the puppeteers have been doing Sesame Street for over 30 years and are extremely experienced.

“We may only be in the studio to film a couple months out of the year, but during the year we have constant live events and they will be doing a lot of work to engage with children.”

He said he wanted the cast to be role models for children and that their commitment to the show was important because of its intensive nature.

“They will be creating the characters, so they cannot leave us in the middle of the show,” said Mr Al Sharhan.

Since its inception, Iftah Ya Simsim has focused on educating children, with its writers working not just to create interesting stories, but also to promote learning.

Dr Cairo Arafat, Bidaya Media’s managing director, said children loved the muppets who reflect human playfulness, curiosity and imagination.

“Finding just the right talent to bring these muppets to life is a top priority of our work,” she said.

“We are eager to view the talents within the GCC and to encourage talented individuals to submit their tapes and come to auditions.”

More information about the casting call and submission details can be found at www.bidayamedia.com

ksinclair@thenational.ae