The idea is simple. Playwrights from a selection of countries are asked to write brand new short plays in response to their current political situation. These scripts are then made available for anyone to perform anywhere for a limited period.
Theatre Uncut is run by artistic directors Emma Callander and Hannah Price. To find out how you can get involved please visit www.theatreuncut.com
My life in the theatre began when I was six years old, when I did my first musical Annie Get Your Gun. I am a second-generation thespian. My mother is an actress, singer, dancer… My youth was spent in theatres, first sitting through my mother’s rehearsals when I was young, and later being involved in a semi-professional theatre where I did everything from acting to tech work.
I guess you could say that I was bitten by the ‘theatre bug’ at a young age. But it wasn’t the ‘smell of the grease paint the roar of the crowd’ that attracted me it was community. I had found my tribe. The theatre for me was a place where I could be part of a group that was willing to work hard for a common cause and make it happen, usually with no pay.
The theatre we worked at was a repertory theatre. We rehearsed a new show during the week and performed the old one on the weekends, producing a new show every month. I would go to school during the day, then went home and ate and then off to the theatre all night. My mother and sister were also part of that tribe so it was a greater family we were always together.
When I went to university I left that part of my life behind to pursue a new path, a path that eventually brought me to Egypt. In Egypt I pursued healing and esoteric wisdom, the gifts that Egypt has to offer. I even opened a Centre for the sacred arts in an attempt to regain that feeling of community, to find a new tribe. But it wasn’t until I was introduced to Theatre Uncut that I found what had been missing in my life. It was a way to bridge the gap between raising consciousness and theatre.
We first joined Theatre Uncut in 2012. It was after our own revolution here in Egypt in 2011. During the revolution I was not in the streets revolting but holding space for others in the form of meditations for peace and the highest good and hugs for people who had been traumatized on the streets and living in tents. That is what I felt was in alignment with my beliefs about what was really happening.
As many of the ‘revolutionaries’/visionaries who came to the meditations were artists of varying types I found myself connected to a whole new group of people. So when it came time to cast the plays I found myself with a group of people to draw from.
Many of the Theatre Uncut plays really resonated with the cast. Even though none of the plays were written in Egypt the themes were all too familiar. It was interesting for us to see how others around the world were suffering the same issues and conflicts that we were facing in Egypt.
We started with 4 people and 4 plays. Each day we would add a new cast member and a new script. In the end we performed 10 of the 13 Theatre Uncut plays. The plays were performed as a dramatic reading at The Centre for Sacred Arts in Zamalek-Cairo on November 17, 2012.
The plays we performed were by writers from all over the world. We performed The Breakout by Anders Lustgarten, Spine by Clara Brennan, A Chance Encounter by Mohammad Al Attar translated by Clem Naylor, London 2012: Glasgow by Kieran Hurley, The Birth of My Violence by Marco Canale Translated by Rob Cavazos, 250 Words by Stef Smith, In the Beginning by Neil LaBute, Yesterday by Helena Tornero, The Price by Lena Kitsopoulou translated by Aliki Chapple, and Indulge by Andri Snr Magnason and Thorleifur Arnarson,
The 2012 cast was equally as diverse. We had people who had performed professionally as well as people who had never been on stage before, college students to artists, foreigners and Egyptians and we spanned more than 3 decades age wise. The whole cast was very enthusiastic and worked hard on the pieces. The cast: Ahmed Hassan, Ahmed Radwan, Cosima Lukashevich, Hussein ElShafei, Leslie Zehr, Maryam Massoud, Mohamed Nagui, Noha Farouk, Salah Fahmy and Tanya Zaki.
In 2013 we join Theatre Uncut again. This time we had the opportunity to reach a wider audience. We performed a dramatic reading at The Centre for Sacred Arts on November 23rd, Mass Theatrical Action Day and then again at Vent on November 27th, 2013
Vent is a nightclub that had opened its doors for the first time only days before the Cairo: Theatre Uncut performance. It felt very fitting, as it was only steps from Tahrir Square where in 2011 Egyptians had fought their battle to be heard. I remember walking out of Vent that night after the performance, looking over at Tahrir Square and thinking that this was yet another step in a bigger picture.
That year as well as performing in the Cairo performances I was also asked by Theatre Uncut to perform in their productions at Young Vic in London, live via Skype. It was a wonderful feeling to be asked to participate in someone else’s performance, somewhere so far away. Through technology we have been able to share our love of theatre and working for a greater cause.
In Cairo we performed 6 of the 8 Theatre Uncut 2013 plays at both The Centre and Vent. The plays were written by well know British and American playwrights. We performed The Wing by Clara Brennan, Project Night by Tanika Gupta, Amanda by Kieran Hurley, Pick One by Neil LaBute, Capitalism is Crisis by Tim Price, and Church Forced To Put Up Gates After Font Is Used As Wash Basin By Migrants by Mark Thomas
The cast was Adham James Haddara, Amr Ahmad Ramadan, Ben Conant, Leslie Zehr, Maryam Massoud, Rawan Alhusseini and Tanya Zaki.
This year I am happy to be producing and directing another wonderful group of people in Cairo: Theatre Uncut 2014. We are proud to be performing 10 of the 11 plays as a marathon with yet another wonderful and diverse cast.
What makes this year extra special for me is that my family’s production company in the USA, Channel Z Productions, will also be partaking in Theatre Uncut this year. So like in the beginning my family and I are working on a project together, even if it is across thousands of miles. We get to discuss the plays over Skype and share ideas, publicity and enthusiasm!
This year’s cast is Ahmed Radwan, Aly Kassem, Fahd Mohy, Leslie Zehr, Mariam Elias, Michael Bishay, Mona Ragab, Omar Madkour, Pola Kamel, Ragui Elissa, Samar El-abasey, Tanya Zaki, and Yasmeen Fahim.
This year’s theme is:
Knowledge is Power, Knowledge is Change. Who holds the keys to knowledge and truth, and why it isn’t always us?
I hope you will join Theatre Uncut either here in Cairo or wherever you are in the world for some wonderful thought-provoking theatre!