Drama Hall in Dar El Asad: 04.12.2010, 7 PM
Performance within the 15th Damascus Theatre Festival
Dawar El Shams: 08. / 09.12. 2010, 8.30 PM
With additional matinée on 09. / 10.12 - hours to be announced.
Premiere on 01.04.2010 @ Rawabet Theatre Cairo
Performances: 02., 03., 04., 05. and 06.04.2010; 20.30h
at 20.30h, additionally 06.04.2010 at 19.00h
How to get there:
Garage, Jesuites Cultural Centre: 09./10.04.2010; 20h
298, Sh. Port Said
Getting there by pupblic transportation:
Nearby stations: Cleopatra Hammamat (Metro No. 1) or Sidi Gaber (Metro No. 2)
- CANCELLED -
Jesuites Brothers´Association: 16./17.04.2010
1, Sh. Mostashfa El Homiat
The blog is archive and update for the upcoming play Spring Awakening by Laila Soliman. Images, quotes and personal impressions mash up the different attempts to reflect on contemporary adolescent life within Egyptian society. Questions collected during the developement of the performance are shared. For the weeks to come, dates to open rehearsals and further developements will be posted. Feel welcome to leave a mark.
Translated into arabic, the text of german writer Frank Wedekind (Spring Awakening, 1891) has been adapted in regard to the prevailing situation of Egyptian youth, their common experiences were taken as a base. It´s a challenge with 25 Million Teenagers living in Egypt. Travelling to the Delta as well as to adjacent districts in Cairo, we got to know a small part of them.
Becoming acquainted with their daily life included listening to flowery ringtones as much as (unspoken) doubts or believes. The subject is sensitive: How does it feel, when individual longings and sexual desires are confronted with certain social, political or religious agreements? Or when the criticism of infidel behavior generates both curiosity and guilt?
In interviews, workshops and scenic lectures the text of Wedekind has been re-read from different perspectives. Teenagers and grown-up "experts" tracked down the changes and consequences adolscences brings. Sometimes in a very direct way, sometimes by not answering.
In April you will meet some of the teenagers again. Not personally. But transformed into fictitious characters of the egyptian Spring Awakening. The borders between document and fiction are flowing. Reality bites meet fantasy pecks. Between tradition and western influence young adolscences, actors and dancers will try their part. On how it works. Or how it doesn´t. Being a teenager.
The project starts from Frank Wedekinds Spring Awakening (Frühlings Erwachen, 1891). The text, subtitled as a children tragedy, subtly examines the emerging sexualty of a youth confronted with specific moral and social values: The lack of sexual education, accompanied by certain sexual taboos and the consequences of an "unspoken” are pinpointed in the figures of the adolescents. The text caused much controversy, quickly the allegation of sexual perversion was brought up. It was not until 1906 that the play was shown - bowdlerised extensively before allowed on stage. Yet Wedekind did not only highlight the effects of shame, fear and curiosity on sexual knowledge. The absence of parental appreciation and authoritarian school models leave a mark on the psychological make-up of his adolescent characters. He dedicated the play to parents and teachers - who in turn and together with the critics saw it as an invasion of their traditional authority and an outrage on the sacred rights of parenthood.
Spring Awakening is the story of adolescents growing up in a small German city. Rigid schooling and high parental expectations crackle their minds. Yet the rising desire for self-determination and independence triggers rejection and reaction.
Wendla Bergmann (14) is curious about her rising sexuality, though left in the dark by her prudish mother who is unwilling to tell her about the birds and the bees. Gifted Melchior Gabor (15) is questionning the meaning of life and is regarded as a moral pervert. And Moritz, a fourteen year old sensitive boy, who while enjoys learning, finds school examinations a trial. Wendla and Melchior meet. Curiosity and desire are exchanged, leaving Wendla pregnant. Moritz, bullied by teachers and students alike, finds the pressure too great to handle. Rejecting one last offer by libertine Ilse, he commits suicide. Meanwhile Melchior is sent to a correction facility, while Wendla dies as a result of a bad abortion.
Having come across the text during my university studies, it was impossible to oversee the parallels between the trials of its characters and that of contemporary Egyptian youth. In Wedekind's language, things are expressed clearly without necessarily being too spelt out. This serves the double purpose of translating the way people talk about sensitive issues in real life to the stage and also to tackle those same issues without alienating the audience.
He tries to create empathy with his characters who while committing «immoral» acts, are doing so innocently or unconsciously. This in fact is his way of pointing fingers at figures of authority be they religious, social or educational and the role they play in shaping the lives of young adults.
While the text is a product of its time, I cannot help but note that the core of the issues in question are very much still alive in the Egyptian Society of today and that it might be of value to revisit this text and draw on the connections that might exist between the social conditions of Europe of the late 19th Century and our contemporary society. This of course is with a clear realisation that the specifics will not hold but that the sensitive form which was quite innovative and ahead of its time then, might serve as a good entry point for handling such taboo subjects today.
I also find that the subject matter of the play as well as its form makes it fit for an adaptation that would attract a younger crowd which is in itself a goal that I put for myself as a theatre producer.
Ahmed El Gendy
Mohammed Abo El Fath
and Ahmed Mohamed Ali
Director/Adaptation: Laila Soliman
Choreographer: Karima Mansour
Dramaturge/Video: Julia Schulz
Music: Mustafa Said
Sound Mixer: Victor Bresse
Set: Mohamed Shoukry
Costumes: Lina Ibrahim
Technical director/Lights: Saad Samir
Technical Assistance: Saber Elsayed
Stagemanager: Nora Fouad
Production: Najoud Nazmi
Arabic translation of Spring Awakening: Sara Hashem
Translation of Adaptation: Mustafa Hashish
Produced and supported by the Goethe Institute Cairo
1: to cease sleeping
2: to become aroused or active again
3: to become conscious or aware of something
1: to arouse from sleep or a sleeplike state
2: to make active; stir up