The Egyptian revolution was not just about the desire to change the political system. It was – most importantly – the expression of the accumulation of decades of oppression, deception, insecurity, violence, inefficiency and depression.
“Before the revolution” attempts to place audiences in that emotional and intellectual moment, portraying the stagnation before an inevitable eruption. We hope that this performance will transport audiences to an alternate state, allow them to better understand not just the causes that led to the revolution but also the event itself, the times that came after it, and the future that stemmed from it.
To accomplish such an alternate emotional and intellectual state, it was necessary to step away from traditional narrative, with its capacity to comfort audiences, reassert their perceptions, and reinforce their role as spectators. We opted instead for a more experimental format, one that challenges the audience’s perception of not only the text, but also of the theatrical experience as a whole. By mixing fiction and non-fiction, merging the familiar and unfamiliar, and blending coherent and incoherent narratives within a specifically designed visual and soundscape, and by stripping actors of their most essential tools, we hope to encourage audiences to engage differently with this performance and with the theatrical experience as a whole.
The distance that separates the starting point of each project from its final form is usually so great, that it barely resembles the original idea. This creative process is one of discovery rather then a predetermined course, one where every step has to be tried and tested, where conventions and convictions are fought, where artistic egos have to be put aside, and where risk is an integral factor. It is inconceivable for members of the creative team, who have been working together for almost two decades, to perceive of the theatrical experience in any other way. They believe that even if their final discovery is a failure, the raw and tangible quality of that failure is more satisfying then any predetermined success.
Sources and inspirations
Religious sermons by the sheikh Mohamed Gabriel and sheikh Idriss Abou Bakr, Ahli sporting club ultras songs, Zamalek sporting club ultras songs, Wikipedia Arabic, BBC Arabic, Al Masry Al youm newspaper, Al Ahram newspaper, Alriyadh newspaper, Al Arabiya news and the song ‘Ya prince El Layali’ by Black Thema and ‘Ya drksioni’ by Oka & Ortegga.
I would like to thank Ramsi Lehner and Nanda Mohammad for their trust and patience in this complex, stressful, and challenging journey. I am honored and lucky to work with such talented and brilliant actors.
Special thanks to Rawabet theater and their wonderful team and to Farah Barqawi.
I dedicate this performance to my father’s soul may he rest in peace and to my older son Teymour whose courage greatly inspires me.