SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates — Kevin Spacey skipped the Screen Actors Guild awards, which handed him a win for his wildly popular role on “House of Cards,” to watch 34 young actors from across the Arab world perform a play as part of his foundation’s Home Grown initiative supporting local talent.

The cast, all 25 years old or younger, hail from war-torn corners of the Middle East.

Before the opening night of the play, Spacey spent time coaching the young actors and gave them tips to take with them back home. When introducing the play, he told the audience that it was this kind of setting that helped him grow as an actor.

“Tonight is the kind of night that I grew up with, that I experienced very young because in my theater class I got to be part of many programs where I was brought together with other emerging artists, put on plays, did workshops,” he said. “Tonight we celebrate … bringing together these young remarkable talents from so many different places as well.”

The play was written by Iraqi-British playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak. It began and ended with the same central question: Do you want to be safe or do you want to happy?

In many ways, that question was for the audience as much as it was for the actors.