The Egyptian Modern Dance Company, directed by Monadel Antar, stages 'The Watchmen' (Al-Bassaseen) until 31 December
“Everything is possible in the world of The Watchmen — the lies, the deceits and the manipulations,” writes May Selim in Al-Ahram Hebdo (Issue 30 December-5 January 2016) when presenting the contemporary dance performance directed and choreographed by Monadel Antar.
Staged on three consecutive evenings, 29, 30 and 31 December, at Al-Gomhoria Theatre, The Watchmen is the director’s new take on the piece he staged back in 2013 under the title of The Watchmen’s Dream.
Selim explains that the show, performed by the Egyptian Modern Dance Company, is based on a novel by late Egyptian writer Gamal Al-Ghitani, Zayni Barakat. The story takes us back to the Mamluk dynasty in the 16th century, and a minister who pretends to be a devoted follower of the religion only to exercise despotic power over the population.
Together with Shehab Bin Radi, minister of security, both characters rely on night watchmen to spy on the people. The play touches on topics related to government and the governed, men and women, and good and evil.
“The movement underlines the key scenes of the performance where the ecstasy reaches it’s pinnacle, fusing the concepts of power and the sensation of blindness. The director chose pieces from the Oriental repertoire: from the song Ya Mesafer Wahdak (O, The Lonely Traveler) by Abdel Wahab to compositions by the Lebanese composer Ibrahim Maalouf and French composer with Moroccan origins Armande Amar."
"It is music that allows the continuous movement back and forth, between past and present, of the characters suppressed by higher powers.”
Selim explains that in this performance, Antar moves beyond El-Ghitani’s text and beyond his 2013 staging of the same material. He adds scenes referencing contemporary Egypt and the Arab world.
“He places the political statements of Gamal Abdel Nasser on the stage in the form of slogans and images accompanied by stereotyped movement.”
The performance will continue to be staged 30 and 31 December at Al-Gomhoria Theatre, 8pm.
(Photos by Bassam Al Zoghby)