Founded in 1993 by director Ahmed El Attar, actress Maya El Kalyoubi and producer Ali Belail, the Temple Independent Theatre Company started off by rehearsing in the music room at the American University in Cairo and on a friend’s rooftop in Maadi. Today, the company has established its international recognition by creating new and relevant Egyptian theatre that is sensitive to the contemporary context in both form and content.
During the first three years, the troupe produced three performances, all directed and produced by El Attar. In 1998, The Committee, El Attar’s first written play, was performed in various venues across Cairo and at the Amman International Theatre Festival, making it the troupe’s first international performance.
Life is Beautiful or Waiting for My Uncle From America (2000), the company’s first professional production and the first paid job for the company’s members, toured internationally in Amman, Beirut and Berlin. In 2010, El Attar received the prize for best theatre text from the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development.
Starting 2001, El Attar’s work shifted towards devised theatre pieces where the text, usually a collage of non-theatrical, non-fictional, non-literary texts, was considered as an element among many visual and conceptual layers.
In 2001, the company presented On the Road to Nowhere; a Cairene Journey for Tourists and Lovers (2001), which took place in a moving bus, and was presented in Cairo, Beirut and Lisbon. It was co-written with Waleed Marzouk.
Mother I want to be a Millionaire (2005), produced and shown by one of the major theatre festivals in Europe, the Berlin Festespiele, marked the company’s style of fast-paced, multimedia performances. Presented in Jordan, Egypt and Sweden, it is regarded as one of the company’s most ambitious projects to date.
About Othello or Who’s Afraid of William Shakespeare marked the company’s return to classical pieces since their interpretation of the Oedipus myth in 1996, and incorporated European actors with the Egyptian cast for the first time. This piece along with Mother I want to be a millionaire, were co-directed by Nevine El Ibiary.
In 2007, F**k Darwin or How I Have Learned to Love Socialism, was the first piece to be produced abroad, involving actors from Egypt and Montenegro; it took the company towards a new direction of minimalist style. Co-produced by the Montenegrin National Theatre and Kampnagle Theatre in Hamburg, it was performed at the 21st edition of the Cairo International Experimental Theatre Festival – where Sayyed Ragab won the best actor’s award for his role.
On the Importance of Being an Arab (2009), on the edge between a theatrical performance and a visual arts installation, has been touring all over Europe and the Arab world since its creation in 2009 and is scheduled to be performed in Paris at Le Tarmac Theatre in March 2015.
El Attar’s first work for children, Hassan x 2 & the Magic Well, was presented in Cairo in 2012 using highly visual collage to address issues of fear.
El Attar’s latest play, The Last Supper, marks his return to playwriting, as this is his first fully written text since Life is Beautiful in 2000.
Apart from Ahmed El Attar and Hassan Khan’s on going collaboration, as of 2000, the Temple’s team also includes Lebanese set designer, Hussein Baydoun, and assistant director, Nevine El Ibiary; joining to 2004 was Swedish light designer, Charlie Astrom.