Solitaire: Fragments of an Identity at Rawabet Theatre
tonight and tomorrow at 7PM at the Rawabet Space for Performing Arts is Solitaire,
a one-woman show written, directed and performed by Dalia Bassiouny.
Solitaire is an approximately 45-minute
monodrama, where one Egyptian woman takes the stage and, through her own
personal experience, goes through the changing reality of Arabs living in the
US and Arab-Americans since the events of 9/11 up till the January 25th revolution.
brings Cairo, her ‘mad city’ side by side with New York City, the other mad city that
she becomes involved with in a complex relationship. Her two cities offer two
sides of a dichotomy in the performance, and they reveal the conflict inside of
Issues of identity, belonging, peace and isolation
are essential in the character’s development. She becomes a stranger in the US
after the Twin Towers attack because of her colour and therefore she becomes
one of ‘them’ and not ‘us’. Alienated, discriminated against and fighting for
her humanity, the protagonist seeks peace with herself, as well as those around
her and the universe that she is a part of.
performance is part of a larger play by the same title that includes the
monodramas of two other women’s inner journeys. Written in 2009, Solitaire
is produced by Sabeel for the Arts, and has won the Theatre Production
Award at the 2010 Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) Awards.
Solitaire will be performed
again at the end of 2011 as part of a larger project. Solitaire has changed with the events of
the Egyptian Revolution and ‘it will continue to evolve to reflect the
transformations Egyptians are undergoing,’ according to Bassiouny.
and intimate, Solitaire manages to capture the essence of the lives of
Arabs in America very well. The subject matter of the performance could at
times become somewhat academic and detached for an Egyptian audience, but the
character’s personal comments on the events around her make it more real and more
incorporates digital material in the performance, documenting moments of the
character’s life, demonstrations in the U.S. and other significant events
digitalising her experience. However, the digital element did not make up for
some weak parts in the performance, especially the part concerning the Egyptian
At times, the performance did not hold itself very well throughout
and got a bit chatty at certain moments. Nonetheless, Solitaire reveals a part of the Egyptian society that is rarely
performed on stage in Cairo.