Bebasata Keda staged now at El Nahda Association

Farah Montasser, Saturday 18 Feb 2012

'As Simple as That' (Bebesata Keda), tells stories of ten passive and active Egyptians during the 18-day uprising in 2011 that led to the ouster of 30 years of Mubarak rule

El Hekaya

Ana El-Hekaya  (I am the story), group performed their latest theatre production Bebasata Keda (As Simple as This) at El-Nahda Association for Scientific and Cultural Renaissance on Friday, 17 February.

Last night's cold and rainy weather did not deter anyone from attending the play. El-Nahda was overcrowded, all waiting to be seated. Some even stood for the entire night in the entry and exit ways of the hall, just to watch what Ana El-Hekaya had to offer.

Ana El-Hekaya is a story telling group that  was co-founded by writer Sahar El Mougi, where all stories are inspired by real life stories of contemporary as well as underprivileged women. The group often works in collaboration with the AUC social research center, and have held several inspiring story telling events.

Bebasata Keda told a number of true stories from Egyptians throughout the 18-day uprising in January of last year. Some of Ana El-Hekaya’s storytelling was written by members of the group; however, some were written by some of Egypt’s bestselling authors, including Khalid El-Khamissi, Mekawi Saeed and Sahar El-Mogi, co-founder of Ana El-Hekaya.

Directed by Reem Hatem, Bebsata Keda managed to take the audience’s imagination back to January 2011, just prior to the ousting of Mubarak. Without any stage décor, costumes, or anything, Bestata Keda told stories of ten Egyptians.

One character after the other reflected  Egyptians from all walks of life.

Among the ten, Hoda Shahin, Dawlet Magdi, Ahmed Heshmet, and Mohamed Raouf got the most cheers.

Hoda Shahin told a story of Sabrine, a young street child who tours downtown on foot to beg. In her street vocabulary,  witty eyes, Shahin managed to bring Tahrir Sqaure to the stage. She spoke about two women protestors who she spent the 18 days of revolution with. She described listening to their political conversations, sleeping with them in their tent and making them tea on the cold nights during their protests.

Sabrine today still begs in Tahrir Square and misses her older, political friends. She's sad that the revolution had to end, closing with it her sense of belonging to a larger family. “On the day el-makhlou’ (the ousted) left, I memorised the faces of the group so I won’t forget them and hope to notice them again if I see them.” Sabrine's story  summarizes the essence of the revolution in a nutshell.

Dawlet Magdi told stories of two Fathi, “the funniest of all stories,” as an audience member put it after the show, and Soad from Eli Gara Weli Kan story (What Happened and What Was).

Behind a projector screen Fathi sat watching TV the whole 18 days and doing nothing but commenting, objecting, complaining and then cheering when Mubarak left power. Mohamed Raouf played Fathi and Dawlet Shahin told the story.

Fathi first thought the youth of Egypt were stupid to go out to the streets to protest. Then he accused them of being corrupt and that Egypt would fall because of them. Then he cheered when masses took the streets, in the millions to push for the ouster, saying proudly, “These are the youth of Egypt, filled with patriotism and nationalism.”

When time dragged and Mubarak didn't step down, Fathi accused the youth of ignorance and stupidity.

But when Mubarak did finally leave, he cheered again for the patriotic youth of Egypt and gave credit to himself for joining the revolution - when actually, he only sat on his couch the entire time.

Magdi’s other character, Soad, tells a story about a wife of a mugger from Bolaq El-Dakrour, one of the underprivileged districts in Cairo. Magdi managed to get into the character of an uneducated housewife who’s used to belonging to a family of thieves and muggers. Her husband and brother had been in jail when the revolution began and on 28 January, when chaos erupted, they were among the prisoners that either broke out or were set lose.

According to Soad, "The policemen at the station released all prisoners and told them to go rob from shops." And that was what they did. They returned to Bolaq El-Dakrour, where Soad chastised them that day, saying stealing is "Haram (forbidden)." Surprisingly, the entire neighbourhood rose up the next day and took over streets of Mohandessin - one of the middle and upper- middle-class areas of Cairo - chanting "ehna el-Bolakeya, mish Harameya (We from Bolaq are not thieves)."

Soad said, "We gave back all what we stole from shops on 28 January 2011."

Bebasata Keda even became a political platform for the audience the more they recalled the Egyptian Uprising in 2011. In between stories they chanted "yaskot yaskot hokum el-askar" (down down with the army) and "el-maglis lazem yemshi" (the SCAF must go).

Music of the late patriotic Sheikh Imam played and sung by Iman Salah Eddin added more to the chants of audience. As the performance ended, the audience took their political anti-SCAF chants outside to the extent that some mistook it as a real, small march, protesting from El Nahda in Ramses.

Saturday, 18 February
El Nahda Association for Scientific and Cultural Renaissance


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