Samer Yahyawi says Y.E.S. to budding actors
Samer Yahyawi’s company, Y.E.S. Group, LLC, has lofty goals. (Y.E.S. stands for Yahyawi Entertainment Services.) Yahyawi, a lawyer, has loved theater since the sixth grade, when he played the snowman in a school play. For the past 20 years, he’s been involved in acting, both onstage and in movies. He’s also a playwright, director, producer, stage manager … you name it, he’s basically done it.
In the course of auditioning, Yahyawi noticed several good actors who always showed up but never got cast. He wanted to create a place where new talent could find work, and to help local theater prosper and thrive.
Y.E.S.’s first production consists of three short plays. “The C.D.I.,” written by Yahyawi, concerns a frazzled attorney and a mellow guy who find love at Kinko’s. The second offering, “The Letter S,” is a send-up of speed dating. (When I sat in on rehearsals recently, the ending was still up in the air. Yahyawi encourages cast members to collaborate in the creative process, and that night, the actors offered well-reasoned suggestions on how the show should end. I’m curious to see what they came up with.) It stars Sidney Hymson (last seen as the fussy antique dealer in Louisville Repertory Company’s recent “Black Comedy”). And the third play, “2B (Or Not 2B),” by Jacquelyn Reingold, is about a woman who falls for a giant bee, and a queen bee who falls for a man.
All three plays deal with the difficulties of dating, a theme close to Yahyawi’s heart. He wants to produce “smart, unknown plays that revolve around relationships and love,” he says.
Yahyawi’s vision for Y.E.S. is ambitious. He hopes to stage a production at Kentucky Center’s Bomhard Theater one day. Long-range goals include producing full-length films for national distribution and developing courses for acting, directing and writing. Y.E.S. differs from other companies in that they do not perform musicals, Shakespeare or familiar works. Y.E.S. gives budding actors the chance to perform and develop their talent. Yahyawi’s rule is that each production must include at least three people who have never performed before, or have not performed in a theater for at least five years. Yahyawi is also eager to work with local playwrights.
Does Louisville need another theater group?
Clearly, the answer is “YES!”