Ahmed El-Attar, the only Egyptian director to display his work at the French Festival d'Avignon this year, tells a spine-chilling tale about a Cairene family.
If you haven’t heard of the director and playwright Ahmed El-Attar, then you might recognise him for his infamous play “Before the Revolution” (Abl el Thawra) which in fact never aired due to problems with the censorship authority. It was cancelled literally hours before the show by Attar himself, claiming that the censorship of the five scenes chosen by the authority would ruin the play. If you haven’t heard of that incident, then you might be familiar with D-CAF, or the Temple Independent Theatre—both of which are founded and managed by Attar, along with a couple of other people.
Now he is back at it with another somewhat gripping play called “Mama”. The play will be performed in one of the world’s most notable festivals—Festival d’Avignon in France. The five dates scheduled for the play are throughout July 18—23.
"Mama" is a fascinating story that revolves around a bourgeois family in Cairo. The topics of patriarchy and family issues underlie the play—as they usually do in Attar's works—which displays symbolic scenes of the typical Si Sayed role that many fathers in Egyptian households adapt to. The twist comes however when the mother decides to adapt the father’s role as a way of getting back at m the men in the family, using the same oppressive tools which women or children are usually subjected to by men.
The play, taking place in France, is performed while acconmpanied with Arabic with French surtitles, and contains a number of actors from the Temple Independent Theatre Company, including Ramzy Lehner, Menha El Batroui, and Botrous Ghali. It is scheduled to be performed five more times throughout the dates July 18—23.
This isn’t the first time Attar performs in Festival d’Avignon; in fact, in 2015 he broadcasted his play “The Last Supper” (El 3esha El Akheer) – a play also revolving around an Egyptian family.
Attar is the artistic director of D-CAF and Falaki Theatre, as well as the founder and manager of Orient Productions and Studio Emad Eddin. He has previously received several awards for his shows, such as the Best Theatre Text award from the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development.
Images taken from French d'Avignon official website.