- The Magic Mixture for HappinessNovember 24, 2020 - 5:25 am
In an ironic style, the playwright makes a carnival of diverse characters who all suffer from the lack of happiness. Every characters appears with its own specific monologue/experience, yet the same character re-emerges again later adding new layers to its tragedy and responding to the issues of the other characters. Almost in a bleak way, every character tries to live with its own lifelessness. In a society where everything seems to be fake, the human existence is void of humanness and of any hope in the future. Hope becomes a sarcastic bleak song delivered during the play. The magical mixture for happiness seems to be the mixture of those characters, who can only be happy by forcing it or faking it. It is a play that highlights the tragic situation of most of young Egyptians who cannot find a future to aspire to, nor hope. The depression of a potential driving force in Egypt, puts an end to the state-diffused illusion that everything here is perfect!
- In the Name of the FatherNovember 24, 2020 - 5:19 am
An Egyptian billionaire seems to be ruling the world. He is the absolute Patriarch. His empire extends to his five children who control all the aspects of economic corruption on a global scale. From human trafficking/slavery, to prostitution, human organs’ trade, monuments’s trafficking, weapon trade, drugs, to the biological manufacturing of viruses and the pharmaceutical trade it entails, to the business of war, famine and investing in weapons of mass destruction, the Patriarch and his family have dehumanised everything. Following the death of his abandoned son (from a second wife), the father decides to repent by offering to the dead son his share in his fortune. All the five children rebel against the father. Led by the eldest, Hazem, the brothers and sisters gather to plan for the assassination of their father. The aunt (sister of the father) -who is blind- is the only one who dares to confront the father with his truth. The wife and mother of the dead son fight over whether he should be butties according to the Christian or Muslim traditions. The mother (ex-wife of the father) is christian, while the father is muslim. The wife of the dead son is also christian. A debate over which religion he should follow in death takes place. The mother insists that he is buried in the islamic cemeteries of his father’s family, to guarantee his inheritance as a muslim son. Meanwhile the five brothers and sisters play a deadly game that ends up by killing someone.
- Theatre of CrimeNovember 24, 2020 - 5:11 am
A crowd of spectators gathers in front of the main gate of a state-owned theater venue in downtown Cairo. They are prohibited from entering. The corruption of the system has allowed other spectators in from the back door, privileged spectators. Hence creating borders between the inside and the outside. Those who are outside are marginalised, deprived, dehumanised and robbed of their dignity. One woman (Independent theater artist) is among that crowd. She endures a horrible sexual violation during the frantic attempt of the crowd to push through the gate. The theater employees refuse to help her or to let her in while she goes through a horrifying panic attack and goes almost breathless. She survives and later goes into a police interrogation where she is denied of her right to justice. The scenes go back and forth interweaving the events of the crime and the interrogation. The playwright fuses the fictional spectators and the real spectators who would be watching, creating a twist where the spectators would interact and create an end via a re-enactment of the crime and the possibility to change the events retrospectively, the potential performance space would counterpart the corrupt fictional state-owned theater.
- Broken WindowOctober 19, 2020 - 9:10 pm
Some time before the revolution of 2011, the playwright had already envisioned the kind of revolt that was about to explode, and -with it- the necessity for an artistic expression that would bridge the gap between the unspoken oppression and the manipulated platforms of public opinion. In that context, she created “Made in Egypt”, a story about an Egyptian Bo-Azizy, a man who -instead of setting his body on fire like in Tunisia- kills his own family with a poisonous meal. Not far from reality, the story had many connections with several incidents of Egyptian fathers killing their own children out of mercy, and sometimes killing themselves afterwards. The facts of poverty and de-humanisation were beyond imagination.
Here the father eventually fails inches crime. The poison had no effect. Like many products carrying the mark of “made in Egypt”, the poison was a failure. Although a happy failure, the highly dramatic event in the text is a double criticism towards oppression and poverty on one hand, and towards the massive failure of Egyptian industry and economy, a failure of Egyptian nationalism. Staged in 2019 under a new title: “A Broken Window”, the play shows a middle class family that is stuck between poverty, ignorance, superstition, corruption and the continuous sexual harassment against women.
- Meta-Fedra/Lady of SecretsOctober 19, 2020 - 9:03 pm
Inspired from Racine’s “Phèdre”, Mohamed Abo Elseoud created a poetic play about the patriarchal oppression and the repression of female sexuality. A taboo in the Egyptian cultural and theater, Abo Elseoud succeeded in all honesty to confront a history of muting sexualities, and of censorship. The love that emerges between Fedra and the son of her husband is not sin, but rather a form of compassion and solidarity vis-à-vis the dictator who claims ownership of their lives and bodies. An unprecedented experience in the Egyptian theater where there is no shaming of what is usually labeled as “treason”. The play is written in monologues of poetry in modern literary Arabic. With the introduction of the character of the female narrator/storyteller, the playwright announces from the beginning that he adopts the feminist perspective in the story that he tells. A unique narrative of how the liberation of sexuality -within a religious and oppressive society- is a prerequisite for political and intellectual liberation. At the end, the director Hany Elmetennawy offers to the spectators the chance to judge the two lovers, by forgiving them or by killing them. A brilliant way to involve the audience and to get some signals about the possibility of social change.
- Stories Never Told by SheharazadOctober 19, 2020 - 8:54 pm
Written and staged in 2005, this play can be considered as a prediction of the Egyptian revolution of 25 January 2011. Nonetheless it would not be a happy prediction as the playwright foresees the chaos that follow the revolution. Once the traditional conflict between Sheharazad and Sheharayar is established, and Sheharazad engages in her daily nightly storytelling to prevent her husband from having sex with her, and therefore to preserve her life, the role of sheharazad develops into a political one. She tries to explain to the king the consequences of his oppressive rule, and tells him how much the average citizens are suffering. She tries to mediate the necessity for change. Yet the king is rather consumed by his avid desire for authority and power, accompanied by his lack of self-confidence and his mistrust in women. He cannot change, neither can he see in Sheharazad anything beyond the objectified female who will soon be killed. The play follows a structure of seven nights. At the end, the revolution breaks through the walls of the royal palace. The rebels enter the king’s bedroom by force. Everybody has deceived the king, even his own soldiers have taken the side of the revolution. Sheharazad tries to prevent violence between the rebels and the king, and ends up being killed during the attempt. Sheharazad as a martyr of failed revolution.
- The Guaranteed Way to Remove StainsOctober 19, 2020 - 8:35 pm
After a long night, a woman decides to murder her lover by putting him into a bathtub full of acid. The play is a long monologue delivered by the woman where she examines how her entire life is shamed and how it has been filled with “stains”. She discovers that everything that she is attached to has been viewed as a stain, that she herself has been seen as a stain. The play is almost the only one of its kind in Egyptian theater where the narrative is entirely constructed from a feminist perspective and where the voice is solely given to the woman to share the prohibited truth of her shamed sexuality and the objectification of her body. Due to the nature of monodrama, the feminist discourse is given the ultimate chance to expand via the discourse of the victimised female character who transforms into a killer. This transformation is neither shamed by the author, nor judged. It could seem that the killing itself has a symbolic value, and that the woman is equally killed while killing her lover. To commit murder in such a horrific way is equal to committing suicide. The Egyptian society witnessed many cases of wives killing their husbands and cutting their bodies to pieces, especially during the 1990’s. This play is the only theatrical text to have tackled the issue.
- FearOctober 19, 2020 - 8:23 pm
Set in a room that is almost made of waste, the conflict between the corrupt upper social class and the almost dehumanised characters of the under-privileged community takes place. The rich man -in his 40’s- seeks temporary refuge in the living space of the deprived man in his 30’s. The playwright shapes that encounter with a seemingly thriller style. The deprived man is almost insane, uttering aggressive words of accusation to the rich and the privileged. He seems to have escaped the police after having killed a police officer. With no shame, he admits to have been a drug dealer, but he does not admit of doing wrong by killing the police officer. He perceives it as an act of justice, because the police officer killed a poor soldier before his eyes. A round woman, Amira, joins the encounter. She is a friend of the lunatic man. Then a man in his 50’s -equally deprived and oppressed- joins as well claiming that the place is his. The playwright examines the vicious circle of poverty, violence and corruption, highlighting how big parts of the population were impoverished, destined to drug dealing and deprived from the basic rights of citizenship. At the end of the play, the rich business man steps out of the place knowing that the police forces are outside and assuming that he will be protected by them. Suddenly gun shots are heard, and the play ends without knowing who shot who. The question remains whether it was the young woman who has already threatened the rich man, or if it was the old poor man who claimed ownership of the gun, or if it was the police who shot the wrong guy mistaking him for the lunatic man who killed the police officer or may be it was justice done by mistake..
- Plastic DreamOctober 19, 2020 - 8:11 pm
The play is among a very limited number of Egyptian plays that dealt with the revolution of 2011 and its repercussions in a critical way. “Plastic Dream” starts by revealing the labels and illusions related to the exoticisation of Egypt. First seen by the exoticising western tourist, then seen by the eyes of its own citizens, Cairo seems like a fairy tale where all the opposites meet. A place where dreams are killed, a square where revolution can be made, a society where everything can be bought with money, and a reality show where visiting Tahrir square has become a touristic fashion. It’s 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood have won the presidential and the parliamentary elections. The young generation is divided between the frustrated dream of freedom and dignity, and the promise of paradise if they join terrorist acts. The dream of a better tomorrow has no place to go now, except being stuck in the shores of illegal migration. The revolution has been labelled as a “spring”, and the quest for personal freedom, privacy and dignity has come to nothing. A black satire where migration could seem like a valid way out. Nonetheless a question remains unanswered: does the Egyptian migrant see the reality of the western society he/she aspires to live in? or are we all recycling mutual illusions and labels?..
- Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and CombatOctober 19, 2020 - 8:07 pm
Struggling writer Gamal hates the way his fellow Arab-Americans represent their culture on American media. It’s easy enough to take out his frustration on literature superstar Mohsen and local mosque leader, Sheikh Alfani. But when his own girlfriend and novelist Noor gets an offer from a major publisher backed with a national media campaign, how will Gamal manage his frustration?