5 Questions with Aaliyah Al-Fuhaid

“The Nether” by Jennifer Haley is a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize winner about a man being investigated for criminal acts related to a website he has created that encourages customers to live out their fantasies and indulge every desire in total sensory immersion. The playwright thankfully encourages casting an adult as the 9-year-old girl named Iris and after an astonishing audition full of choices I cast Aaliyah Al-Fuhaid, a UAlbany student. At an early part in rehearsal, the question came up “Do you believe she’s 9 years old?” To which I replied, “I believe she’s Iris.”

As a director, the most you could ask of an actor is that they try things. It’s neither of your jobs to enter the rehearsal room knowing exactly what you’re going to do or how everything should be played. As Stephen Sondheim said in reference to Jerome Robbins “My definition of genius is: endlessly inventive.” There are actors who want notes because they want to hear that they’ve done what you asked them and there are actors who want notes because they want to be challenged and play more. Aaliyah Al-Fuhaid loves to play.

PW: When did you know that you loved performing in plays and what does it do for you?

AA-F: In fifth grade I was cast as Mrs. Kirby in “You Can’t Take it With You”. Ever since then, I have always wanted to be on stage. Being on stage allows me to connect with the audience and explore the way different people think and act through character work. 

PW: Who do you play in “The Nether” and what does she do?

AA-F: I play Iris in “The Nether”. She helps to make sure The Hideaway, a realm in The Nether, runs smoothly. 

PW: What do you love about this play and why should people come see it?

AA-F: This play sparks conversations and debates you didn’t even know you would have! Everyone should come see this show, it will definitely make you think about the virtual world differently.

PW: What is a play or musical that changed your life and how?

AA-F: “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit”.  Like “The Nether,” this show sparks a lot of conversation. I left the theatre speechless, and it has stuck with me ever since. 

PW: Do you have a dream role or production? What would you like to do next?

AA-F: I would love to be in “Chicago,” or Lady Macbeth in the Scottish Play. Next up… keep working with awesome people who do awesome things! 

“The Nether” by Jennifer Haley opens Friday, 6/2 at The Ghent Playhouse and runs for three weekends until 6/18. Tickets: www.ghentplayhouse.org

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