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‘Lessons in Revolting’ at Rawabet Theatre

Lessons in Revolting: Inspiring Performance at Rawabet Theatre

  • 3 Hussien El Me'amar St. ext. of Mahmoud Basiouny St.
  • Cultural Centers
  • 01275070727
reviewed by
Zainab Magdy
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Lessons in Revolting: Inspiring Performance at Rawabet Theatre

To
claim that Lessons in Revolting is
inspired by the revolution is an understatement: this is a very personal, fluid
documentary combining movement and music with videos and poetry by a group of
artists and activists who had participated in the January
25th uprising.

Directed
by Laila Soliman and Ruud Gielens, the performance was launched at Rawabet
Theatre in Downtown Cairo on August 19th and will continue until August 23rd. The
show starts at 9PM and ends at 11PM.

The
performance starts with the point prior to the events of January 2011 with video
footage of the eighteen days in the background as the performers – Aida
El Kashef, Aly Khamees, Aly Sobhy, Karima Mansour, Maryam, Omar Mostafa, Ruud
Gielens and Salma Said – move around the theatre space. The tension rises as
the video scenes progress and the actors’ movements develop along with music by Maurice Lorca and Mustapha Said.

It
doesn’t stop at February 11th but moves on to the current day, which the actors
capture with their movement in their individual scenes. Even though the
movement is collective at the beginning, the performers move in their own space
and rhythm, creating a larger connection between them and the audience and weaving
their own personal space. This personal space comes out more vividly in their individual
scenes as they express themselves through their art.

Khamees,
who is a dancer, opens his monologue about his experience of protecting his neighbourhood
after January 25th with a movement piece that is very personal and expressive of whom
he is as a dancer and as a person. Sobhy’s two monologues echo his own
experiences of being part of clown workshops and being arrested by the army on
March 9th; he juggles three balls as he makes a connection between memories that
are very personal yet very general at the same time. The third monologue by Salma
Said contrasts greatly with the other two as she stands still and speaks of experiencing the atrocities committed by the army on April
9th.

Other
personal scenes merge video with music and movement. Maryam sings as she lets
herself be folded by other performers. El Kashef uses a video that she had made
earlier of her own movement around the space, echoing the video to recreate
space, time and energy of the event. Mustafa reads a poem by Naguib Sorour as
Said’s oud makes a frenzy of sounds that complement the movement of the other
performers. Mansour and Gielens create a most poetic scene with what seems to
be simple movement combined with Mansour’s singing.

Mansour choreographed the piece,
and she explained that this ‘abstract movement does not alienate the audience but gives
them space to delve in and be involved.’

‘The
power of movement is in the expression of what needs to be expressed,’ said Mansour.
That is exactly what the movement of the performers expresses: enough but not
enough to be ‘didactic’; only to be involving and ever present.

With
all these personal aspects at play, Lessons
in Revolting
becomes very moving and sometimes distracting. However, this
only adds to the beauty of the chaos on stage as it is very honest. The
different scenes and the constant movement leave the audience out of breath,
but there are scenes of a slower pace that create a balance and give the performers
and audience a moment to take their breath without breaking the rhythm and
pace.

360 Tip

After Ramadan, the show will move to Europe, where performances in Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Zürich and Rotterdam are planned. For more information on the whole project, checl out their website.

Best Bit

It is a wonderful and exhilarating performance that is truly worth watching.

Worst Bit

Entrance is free but you have to be there from 8:15PM to get a number for a ticket.

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