Last Update 13:59
Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Touqous Al Asharat waal Tahawalat: Superb performance by AUC crew

The Gerhart Theatre Hall at the American University in Cairo features “Touqous Al Asharat waal Tahawalat" by the late Syrian writer Saadallah Wannous

Farah Montasser, Friday 28 Oct 2011
Views: 2222
Views: 2222

Held at the Gerhart Theatre Hall at the American University in Cairo (AUC), the Department of Performing and Visual Arts of AUC presents “Touqous Al Asharat waal Tahawalat" by one of Syria’s late leading contemporary playwrights, Saadallah Wannous, directed by Effat Yehia.

Considered controversial, “Touqous Al Asharat waal Tahawalat" (Rituals of Signs and Translations) was written in 1994. In a very interesting and successful approach, Wannous criticises the politics and society of the Arab world through an expose of a city’s political and social corruption. The arrest of the “Naquib” for an immoral act incites a series of unanticipated events that uncover a city's scandalous secrets and brings about startling transformations, changing a politician’s daughter and aristocratic young wife into a prostitute, the corrupt into the spiritual, and the hypocritically pious into the worldly.

The play is set in a city during Ottoman rule, as originally written by the Syrian playwright, but saw an Egyptian reshuffle to suit AUC's audience and the current uncertainty within the country. In the household of a wealthy orthodox governor of the city, always proclaiming to be a religious aristocrat, Warda (Sandra Guirgis), the maid, commits adultery with the governor, his son turns gay, and his daughter becomes a prostitute to free herself from oppressive traditions that tie women down and deny them freedom.

The play is full of monologues presented by the main characters that criticise Arab society. Effat Yehia, the director, has made an excellent choice in the cast. During the intermission of the play, audiences were divided into small groups. Each one praised the story, actors, and director. A woman in her mid-40s or early 50s says, “The story represents our reality.”

Among the younger generation in the audience, giggles were heard whenever certain characters made it on stage, including the gay Afsa for his comedic approache and attitude, the Nubian Abdo (Hassan Abou El Rouss) for mastering the Egyptian-Nubian dialect, and Warda for her local attitude. Guirgis’ acting skills transformed her into a young woman who has lived in one of Cairo’s alleys all her life.

The director of the play, Yehia, managed to engage the audience in the story by her choice of an ‘Environmental Stage Set’ in the theatrical term, placing the audience in the middle, surrounded by the stage on all sides ... an atmosphere that blended observer with the characters and scenes of the play. Besides the decor, Yehia also added some famous soundtracks by the late Egyptian actress Souad Hosni "Bano Bano" (Appear Appear) in her film Shafeeqa we Metwali that carry the playwrights' message as well as making the script more Egyptianised.

Struggling between traditions and religion, Wannous showcases with his characters how society can be reshaped. Wannous criticises the hypocrisy of an Arab society that always must maintain public virtue, but when behind closed doors breeds nothing but corruption.


Performances are held 24, 25, 26, 27, 31 October and 1 November, starting at 7pm; a performance on 29 October will begin at 5pm.

Gerhart Theatre Hall, AUC Center for the Arts

The American University in Cairo, New Cairo

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

02-11-2011 12:26pm
You call this Journalism?
It is beyond ludicrous that you allow yourselves to publish such a poorly written piece of Journalism which is essentially meant to reflect the paper's stance on theatre criticism at large. Why you would send an amateur writer to review theatre and obviously crown her a critic, is beyond me. You never cease to surprise me with your constant ignorance Ahram. never.
Comment's Title

© 2010 Ahram Online.