The Discreet Charm of the Pillars of Society, which runs at Dramaten theatre, concluded its January runs (26-31). The play will also be performed on 1, 10, 18,19, 24, 25 and 28 February and on several nights in March.
With this play, El-Attar has become the first Arab writer and director to be commissioned by Dramaten — Sweden's national stage for "spoken drama," and one of its most iconic cultural institutions. The historical theatre was founded in 1788; it includes five stages which allow it to host a thousand shows every year.
Co-written by Swedish playwright and dramaturg Felicia Ohly, The Discreet Charm of the Pillars of Society is an exploration of love, politics, class and their intersection, exposed through two families' unraveling.
"The story begins when a Syrian woman meets a Swedish man. The two fall in love, and their well-to-do families meet for the first time at the couple’s wedding. The families are divided by race, gender, and religion, but a common passion unites them: the pursuit of wealth," reads the play's description.
Embedded in a fast-pace storytelling, the play captures the complexity and nuance of human relationships, but it also involves COVID, vaccine trafficking, “and a lot of other exciting and intriguing events,” says its director.
"In its depiction of the ultra-wealthy, El-Attar’s work breaks away from stereotypical representations of Syrians as refugees and instead reveals how global class relations can transcend race and other barriers, in pursuit of a mutual appetite for dominance," the production company Orient Productions' press release explains.
“It’s the people with power and money who are making the world run,” El-Attar clarifies. He believes that the wealthy and powerful are the ones “distracting people from the main issues."
The performance is performed in Arabic, Swedish and English and is also subtitled in these languages.
Director Ahmed El-Attar is an independent Egyptian theatre director, translator, playwright and cultural manager. He is the founder and general manager of Studio Emad Eddin, which is a unique project that offers rehearsals and training spaces to independent artists in the field of performing arts in Egypt.
He is also the founder and artistic director of Orient Productions, the Temple Independent Theatre Company, and the founder of D- CAF (Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival). The activities of D-CAF's eight edition started on 29 March and are ongoing until 21 April.
El-Attar was born in 1969 and studied at the French Catholic School Les Frères. He then went on to study theatre at the AUC. He obtained an MA in Cultural Management from the Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle University in 2001.
In 2009, El-Attar was selected as a Chevening scholar as well as a Clore Leadership programme alumnus in the UK. He also participated in the National Strategies Programme in 2014-2015 in the United States.
In 2019, he was named Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by France.