A scene from Fi Qalbi Ontha Ebreya-photo courtesy of Fann Mohaweg officiall Facebook page-Mounir photography RESIZED
CAIRO– 16 April 2017: Imagine your favorite book coming to life, performed by actors on a stage with audience members curiously waiting to learn the ending; Fann Mohaweg is here to grant the wish of many book lovers.
Fann Mohaweg’s ‘Concealed Art’ is the first Egyptian independent theatre troupe working toward expanding the theatre base by creating theatrical adaptations of mainstream modern Arabic literature works.
Fann Mohaweg was founded in 2014 by director Mahmoud Abdel Aziz as a continuing process of the independent theatre wave created in the 1980’s. Over the last three years the band has created only three adaptations, due to financial issues. All were directed by Aziz.
According to Aziz, the troupe launched with a performance of a play called Leylet Masrah, “Theatre Night,” in 2014. The production was a cooperative project by the members of the troupe and included four different segments portraying different stories.
“Thankfully, our first show was a success because it has been a while since Egyptian theatre witnessed a cooperative show based on true teamwork,” Aziz told Egypt Today by phone. “Also, the various stories performed attracted our audience’s attention,” he added.
Since Fann Mohaweg is an independent band, it is neither funded nor recognized by the Ministry of Culture, which hinders their production process.
According to Aziz, the financial crisis in Egypt has directly affected the troupe’s search for affordable venues and resulted in increased ticket prices. With the cost of props and productions essentials also increasing, it’s becoming harder for the band to survive, he said.
“It is sad that the financial situation in Egypt is restricting us from creating our art, leading us to perform our work once every couple of months,” added Aziz.
The band started adapting mainstream modern Arabic literature in order to expose younger generations to theatre as a whol;. Fann Mohaweg is aiming to introduce a new wave of theatre based on the current interests of Egyptian millennials.
Theatre is a strong factor in Egyptian culture; older generations were able to experience theatre regularly, and now it is time for millennials to go through this journey. The theatrical scene in Egypt has always been based on remakes of traditional literature works, and therefore this new wave of adapting modern literature into plays has the potential to gain recognition locally.
“The younger generations represents the future so they [will] have the ability to encourage future generations to experience theatre,” Aziz told Egypt Today.
Fann Mohaweg’s first full-length adaptation was “Torab Al Mas,” “Diamond Dust,” based on a best-selling thriller by Ahmed Mourad. Later, the band decided to remake “Hebta,” a novel by Mohamed Sadek that was later adapted into a star-studded summer flick, causing the troupe to gain popularity among youngsters. Their third theatrical adaptation was “Fi Qalbi Ontha E’breya,” “A Hebrew Woman in my Heart,” a controversial novel by Khola Hamdy portraying the journey of a Hebrew women converting to Islam. This latest adaptation is still playing in few venues in Cairo and Alexandria.
Fann Mohaweg’s adapted works reflect the novels rather than acting out a couple of chapters. The band tends to add a plot twist to trigger the audience’s curiosity, especially for those who read the novels their adaptations are based on.
“My work has to show the vision I evolved while reading the novels and deliver it vividly to the audience; that is why I twists the novel’s plot on stage,” explained Aziz.
Aziz noted that many Egyptians do not care about art and theatre anymore, preferring to watch a commercial rather than attend independent performances.
“Our goal is not only attracting millennials but also to make our audience acknowledge the essence of art in our lives through the morals delivered by each of my works,” Aziz continued.
Fann Mohaweg is, ultimately, another attempt to revive theatre in Egypt and encourage people to attend interactive performances instead of being always caught up in the “unrealistic world of social media and digital screens,” he said.
After the success of their latest adaptation of “Fi Qalbi Ontha E’breya,” Fann Mohaweg is producing a sequel of the classical Egyptian play “Al Eyal Kebret.”