Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Two longer plays about political issues and the prejudices Islamic people have to deal with. These plays are about people society has marginalized.
Veils is about a black African Muslim, Inti, whose desire to wear a veil has been impacted by seeing her mother strip searched during 9/11 and only not being stripped herself (13 at the time) because of her mother’s intervention.
So, she has ‘other drivers’ to her desire to wear the veil. She has come to Cairo for a gap year to connect with fellow Muslims but they reject her because she’s American. She is a victim of generalized prejudice from various angles at home and abroad, and has bought a full burka (niqab) to wear at a ‘ban-the-burka’ demonstration, reacts and kicks out at people who spit on her and she’s hit by a stone that people are throwing. Samar, her flat mate supports the campaign and saw Inti kicking out (not realizing it was her). This short play is about the quarrel these two have and how Inti has not considered the whole issue of oppressive religious practice in the stand she has taken, being accused by Samar of being an American who thinks she knows what’s best for Egypt. Samar defends her argument that Shariah Law in oppressive and the burka is seen as a form of packaging for their property – like a big chastity belt.
This play aims to use this misunderstanding to explore the issues of personal freedom vs religious practices that are forced on people.
In Ukimwi, the title character is a young child who was sold for a gold Rolex watch by her father for sex to cure a truck driver friend of AIDS (giving HIV to her in the process). Her mother protests by stripping naked and standing outside the hut where her husband is playing cards until he is shamed.
Now 18, she is exacting revenge on men by prostituting in Cairo – sleeping with them for money with no condom to exact revenge.
In this play she picks on a gay Mexican-Texan oilman who has come to Cairo to get away from a homophobic father.
These are heavy issues indeed, very well presented in a beautifully directed, face-paced production. This reviewer felt that there was an unnecessary intensity and a sense of ‘Oh My God’ about both plays, but at the same time, I felt that these are issues that need to be addressed and dealt with. After watching both plays, it is important for each member of the audience to search his own heart to see how much of what the characters have to deal with are caused by personal prejudice.