Tuesday, 22 March 2011

January Stories

“January Stories” is the title of a documentary drama about the revolution, directed by Dr. Dalia Bassiouny. The play has been running in the Manf Theatre since the 1st of March and will still be on stage until the 28th of this month. 

Scene from the drama "January Stories", directed by Dalia Bassiouny

Four women and five men, all students from Dalia’s class at Helwan University, read the testimonies published by different Egyptian authors during the revolution. The actors are all dressed in black and the white headscarves of two of the ladies are the only light spots on the sinister scene.
The drama starts with the humming of another group of students who are lined up behind the audience. At the same time, the actors appear on stage and sit down, side by side, on a row of red chairs. Two more seats are placed in the foreground of the scenario and two microphones are positioned in front of them. 

The women and men, one by one get up, step forward, take a seat in the front line and read their testimonies to the audience. At the end of each reading, the actor or actress stands up and severely recites a list of names and ages of the martyrs of the revolution. After the mentioning of each name, the percussionist has her instrument echo the sober heart-beat of reality. The revolution truly claimed its victims and most of them were in their twenties. These students who are performing the drama are colleagues of the ones who died. It could have been them. All of them experienced violence and witnessed with their own eyes how people got killed. 

The play ends with a common shrill, cacophonic and desperate scream which seems to be coming from deep inside of those young peoples’ soles. They do not act. Tears are running down their faces. After sharing their traumas in a cathartic act with the audience, they vanish from the stage like shadows. Nobody applauds. Deathly silence.