“Song of Death”

It’s a play that revolves around revenge, family ties and forgiveness. In amidst all these conflicts a mother kills her only child losing all that she has to live for and the only hope to avenge her husband’s death.

In the latest theater productions at the American University in Cairo (AUC) the Gerhart Theatre presented one of Tewfik al Hakim’s plays “The Song of Death” in classical Arabic. The play was directed by graduating theatre student Amira Gabr,  as her graduation project.

The play was presented in classical Arabic which the audience found it both  appealing and challenging at the same time, but necessary to keep the spirit and originality of the play.

“Speaking in classical Arabic was necessary, and it the directing of this play unique,” said Madina Mohammed, Chemistry Sophomore. “The actors were trying hard and they were speaking with a good upper Egyptian(Saedy) accent.

The play itself written by al Hakim is about a woman (Asaker) who sends her only child to live in Cairo after her husband has been killed, hoping that he would grow up to avenge his father. However,  despite the mother’s hopes the kid grows up to become a religious man in Al Azhar and refuses to kill the man who killed his father and confronts her that she lives in an ignorance of wrong traditions. The mother angry at her son orders his cousin to kill him to wash away what she calls the family’s sin.

The way the play was presented and the directed were not the only highlight to the play the actors caught the attention of the audience as a near perfection lot, who grasped the characters they were playing and gave a classy performance. 

“The acting was really good, the facial expressions were all too real, and the directing too the actors movements and usage of the whole stage and their positioning on stage  was a benefit to the play”.

By: Mennatallah Youssef

“I Want Your Soul”, “Sorry Not Today”

zombies Candles, pumpkins, skeletons, vampires, witches are what you would see in every Halloween party you attend.  Recently in Egypt more and more young people celebrate Halloween, and this Thursday I attended the party at AUC done by the Theatre Club and the SU’s Continuous  Entertainment.

Well, I thought it would be like any other party I have been to since I was in high school where you would dress up in some old white blanket you find in your attic, or an old curtain that you turn into a cloak. There would be loud music that you jam to with your friends and then get some pumpkin and witch shaped candy when you going home.

 The day began with a an AUCian band playing rock music during assembly hour and getting the students warmed up for the party at night.

 Later, as it got darker I have seen a lot of some Jokers, a Frankenstein, quiet a few wicked witches and vampires and clowns and strangely enough a Romeo, walking around campus.

  But this Halloween party was very different. The theatre club did really do a tremendous amount of work putting skeletons on every palm tree, and candles and pumpkins everywhere leading to the haunted castle. They had really managed to transform a part of the university, to one scary haunted castle and totally put the chill down everyone who entered.

 Whether you get scared from people screaming at the top of their lungs from behind curtains, or a clown that had a pupil less eye with a cross on or a bride sucking the blood of her groom; it was all there.

However, this may seem bizarre to some, the one that really made me shiver and feel weird was the idea of people dressed as zombies. Please do not get me wrong I have nothing against zombies, but the idea of these people screaming like maniacs and demanding your “soul”, was way too much for me to handle. I mean I didn’t feel like selling my soul to the devil that day!

There was also no music available to entertain those waiting in line to enter the hunted castle. A band called “Soul Revival” was supposed to playing Cold Play songs, but they have not been able to come due to some difficulties, thus leaving a few 100 students waiting bored in line, or scaring each other.

 People left happy and scared, many were going to other parties or trick and treating. I left thinking of a macabre situation where someone wanted my soul. Well, sorry not today!

 By Mennatallah Fouad Youssef

(Mir s Tuleni) – Peace With The Seals

The Margaret Meade Film and Video Festival is back at AUC with a new group of International movies; from Australia, Swaziland, Himalayas, Finland, Czech Republic, Italy, China, Ireland, Abkhazia, the Netherlands, Laos and Papua New Guinea.     peace with the seals 2

Recently I went to see one of the movies showing at the university, and that was “Peace with the Seals”. The movie is a collaborated production between Italy and the Czech Republic and was first shown in 2007.

The movie is trying to explain that the interaction of humans living in the Mediterranean during the 20th century with the seals,  and their exploitation lead to the extinction of the Mediterranean Monk seal.

Through the movie the director and the film makers meet with marine biologists, philosophers as well as beachgoers on the Mediterranean shores who have supplanted the seals lead them to believe that the only monk seals left are those preserved in Coppola’s extensive collection of archival footage; as said in the brochure of the (MMFVF).

 In doing so the movie follows marine biologist and Italian filmmaker Emanuele Coppola and the Czech director Miloslav Novak, on their journey to explore what happened to the Mediterranean Monk seal and to find any trace for it. 

 The documentary begins with some sort of weird dream that the director learns about the seals and later finds out about it in a brochure and goes on a trip to several places to learn about what happened to it. They first arrive in Sardinia, to meet with the Sardinian seal and later they travel to Turkey.

 The movie was a combination of old archival footage, new footage and some graphics that portrayed the weird dreams the director was having about seals.

 Some other distractions were the sound of the narrator talking about the story “War with the Newts” that was not explained in the movie, leaving the viewer confused about how the story is related to the story until some point where you understand that the Newts are representing the humans taking over the territory where the seals live and disturbing their environment. 

The movie  followed the story of a seal Ulysses a baby seal, who was tossed ceremoniously into the famous Di Trevi fountain by Italian photographer Federico Patellani,  in front of snapping flashbulbs and clapping onlookers.peace with the seals 3

The archival film shows the event that took place in 1951 where  the crowd gathered around the fountain, and as the frightened seal is pulled from the water, with the commentator chuckling , that the seal was lifted off to do more sightseeing.

The film then follows the story of another seal: Gaston, who was carried out of zoo captivity by a flood.According to the Prague Zoo director,  Gaston became “the most famous animal on earth” after he managed to reach Germany during a devastating flood. At the height of his fame, Gaston was adopted by the former Prime Minister Gross; after Gaston’s death, the Prague Zoo erected a statue in his memory.

Unsuccessful rescue workers later share their firm observations that it was not a break for freedom, but rather that he was swept helplessly out to sea, panicking because he was suddenly in a “strange environment.”peace with the seals 4

The movie has succeeded in showing  the growing European culture of tanning, with the spreading of shores across the Mediterranean lead to the extinction of the seals and the destruction of their habitat.

peace with the seals 5‘Peace with the Seals’, also showed that the exploitation of the seals and other animals such as dolphins in wars, led to near extinction. 

However, the movie didn’t offer a real solution to the problem, although we could say that it did bring to the viewers attention the problem facing the environment due to our actions.

The Margaret Meade Film and Video Festival will continue to show moves at the AUC New campus in Mansour Hall , and at Ewart  Hall in the Old Campus. 

The movie ‘Bomb Harvest’ (Laos/Australia) will be showing at Mansour Hall on 1 November at 5:30 p.m. ‘Trobraind Cricket: An Indigenous Response To Colonialism’ (Papua New Guinea) will also be showing there on 4 November at 3:30p.m.

The festival ends on 5 November with ‘Umbrella’ (China); at the Old campus at 6:30p.m. 

-By Mennatallah Fouad Youssef

“Khobz” : An Art Exhibition

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Do you like bread? Have you ever imagined your breakfast without a loaf of baguette? How would you enjoy a delicious turkey sandwich without Panini. Can you ever enjoy a plate of ‘foul’, on a Friday morning without ‘balady’ bread.

Now bread is being used in a different way, one that we are not used to in Egypt. Seeing that bread is a very important component in people’s meals and more than half the population on Earth consumes bread daily, a group of artists have  put together a bread exhibition.

The artists in the “Khobz” exhibition are 12, each presenting their work, where they can each explore a different aspect of bread.

The bread exhibition taking place at the Darb 1718 gallery, taking the concept of  bread “out of context” as they have explained, and they will be  looking  at the relationship between bread, culture, politics and its important to societies and their survival.

Egypt is the world’s largest consumer of bread and has been on the brink of revolution in 2008 when there were bread shortages, and people had to stand in long lines at humble bakeries to get subsidized bread. Several arguments would take place everyday some which have led to the death of seven people in total. In an attempt to solve the problem the Egyptian Army has been made responsible for baking bread and delivering it to the bakeries.

 Similar problems have occurred at the beginning of the 20th century but in Russia, where wheat shortages resulted in the sparking of the communist revolution in 1919 ending the Tsarist rule in Russia. Thus, it looks like bread is such an important aspect of people’s lives.

 Darb 1718 is a non-profit organization that aims at benefiting the contemporary art movement in Egypt, by providing a place for new  local talents to show their work for the masses to get to them, and also to provide lovers of art in Egypt with the work of famous local, regional and international arts. Along side this, Darb 1718 encourages new work and holds workshops at their institution.

So, if you want to get a new taste of bread and look at some contemporary work with a pinch of history visit the Darb 1718 at Kasr el Sham3 St., El Fakhareen, Old Cairo, behind the Hanging Church and Amr Mosque. The best way to get there is to take the underground and the nearest Metro station is the Mary Girgis stop.   

 The “Khobz” exhibition is on display until the 7th of November, everyday from 10am- 2 pm, and reopens from 4-9pm. The centre is closed on Thursdays and only operates from 4-9pm on Fridays. 

-By Mennatallah Fouad Youssef

Trick and Treating Toddlers

DSC02290Wearing little pumpkin masks and necklaces, toddlers go trick-or-treating in the midst of the AUC Plaza.

Escorted by teachers and their teaching assistants, the sons and daughters of teachers and students parade from AUC’s daycare center to the library as a tribute to Halloween.

In preparation for the event, the children decorated Halloween masks, macaroni and pumpkin necklaces, and pumpkin headbands.

Later, toddlers went back to the center for a Halloween Party, where they would sing, dance, and eat Halloween treats. The daycare center is also a pre-school center.

“They are learning many things in order to prepare them for school,” said Derbala.

Each year, the daycare center holds parties and parades for toddlers for every major celebration. They also hold parades and parties for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Bairam.

“It’s a big treat for the children going out [of the center],” said daycare center teacher Zizi Derbala.

-By Nouran Khalil

“15 Raqam Bardo” Help Club Celebrates 15 Years Of Community Service

“2o3od ba2a 3shan hanebda2” that was how the Help Club began their annual reception, at the American University of Cairo (AUC) asking the attendants to be quite and sit down so that they can start.help club poster

 The annual reception for the Help Club is the one event that most AUCians try not to miss as this is the only event that most people described as hilarious and fun to watch. The Help Club, year after year fascinates its attendants with comedy sketches and documentaries that criticize the wrong situations at the AUC community and Egypt at large.  

 The club has been publicizing for the reception about two weeks before its date, with the biggest sized banner the AUC campus has ever witnessed. The size of the banner was the talk of people around campus and the “weird and funny” comments on the flyers, asking the students to forget about midterms and movies and come to watch the reception. And fair enough they have succeeded in attracting an audience of 1100.

 The reception began with a short speech from professor Safwan Khedr, the clubs senior advisor being proud with the club and its achievements for 15 years in developing parts of “ Old Egypt” and that helped the students participating to develop too. Proceeding that was another speech from Sherif Osman, the club’s president, in which he encouraged the attendants to understand the serious messages behind the work presented in the opening and to appreciate the effort of those who worked on them.

 The reception began with its first sketch criticizing the low level of medical treatment in Egypt. The sketch had it all from forgetting a mobile phone in a patient’s stomach, to killing a patient during operation. With the audience literally falling off their seats, the scene ends with the patient dead and everyone goes quiet.

 A poem in Arabic about Palestine was recited then, accompanied with some effective shots of the long lasting Palestinian suffering. The club members as many others are very passionate about the  Palestinian cause, and are always reminding people it. They have been very active in this area, initiating several awareness campaigns; to the AUC community about the subject. Although the documentary and the poem reduced the fun spirit that everyone had got into, it was very appreciated and was one of the high points of the night.

 Being one of the first student community service clubs on the AUC campus, the Help Club has long been engaged  in projects such as English and Computer teaching in poor areas in Cairo.

 A big part of their work of course is based around fundraising through collecting donations on campus, and then the money is used for Ramadan packages, buying meat for Eid and getting clothes for the poor during Eid. A large group of students participate in these projects and as the club claims their diversity is what makes their work succeed.

Celebrating their diversity the club has put a very inspiring documentary about the members and differences that enrich their club.

After four months of hard work, the Help Club has really succeeded this night in putting a great show to amuse their audience and deliver messages and show what they are all about. 

-By Mennatallah Fouad Youssef

Pantomime Pioneer

CV mime 28Under a white face mask and red lips, Ahmed Nabil brings life into nothingness.

Of his funniest and most interesting acts was “The Traffic Officer”, where he mimed being a Traffic Officer in Egypt, in Egyptian Traffic, harassing a girl passing on the street causing a catastrophe on the road. The way he mimed this particular act was very creative and very Egyptian like, which was extremely funny.

In another act of his, “The Diplomat Acts in a Diplomatic Way”, was also hilarious, in which he mimed being an Egyptian diplomat in need of responding to nature’s call. Related to this same theme was another one of his acts “No Comment!” where he mimes being an Egyptian on the can.

Nabil is considered to be one of the pioneers of the art of Pantomime in the Arab world. He is ranked one of the best Twenty Pantomime artists all over the world. He performs a wide array of performances at the Cairo Opera House, The Sawy Culture Wheel, and many other countries abroad such as Germany, India, Australia, Russia, and Italy. He’s one of the Egyptian pioneers who directs and composes Pantomime performances in Germany.

Nabil received numerous certificates praising his talent. He participated in many movies. T.V shows, series, plays, and many others. He gave lectures about Pantomime at The American University in Cairo, along with Alexandria University, being Alexandrian himself.

Nabil performed a wide range of acts such as “The Balloons’ Seller and the Child”, “Two Statues for a Man and a Woman”, “The Surgeon and his First Surgery”, and “The Birthday Cake”.

The music was entertaining. It was very versatile. It ranged from Classical music remixes, such as a remix of Mozart’s Symphony number 40, and silly children’s rhymes, to Egyptian Folklore music, which played between acts. Music was put together by Hany Shenoda.

Nabil was dressed in a traditional Pantomime costume, black shirt and leggings, with white tights and ballet shoes. His black top had three Lotus flowers on it, which their purpose was unfathomable. Costumes and make-up were done by Amany Wasfy.

Pantomime is a musical-comedy theatre production. It Is presumed one of the most complicated types of art, whereas the performer acts out characters, setting, time, sets, props, and the whole environment, on an empty stage.

-By Nouran Khalil

Chicago at AUC

CV c hic 27

Musica Club and Movie Premiere Club will be doing a performance of Chicago musical collaboratively in December, merging musical theatre with film.

Chicago tells the tale of divas Velma Kelly, who killed her husband and sister for sleeping together, and Roxie Hart, who killed her boyfriend for not making her a big a star as promised, fight a battle against execution by hanging along the same lines of fighting for fame in the 1920s

Sophomore Nesma Mahgoub, president of Musica Club proposed the idea of performing the musical Chicago. The production is set to take place sometime in the first ten days of December, right before the final exams. There will be one performance in the AUC Tahrir Campus, and two other performances in the AUC New Cairo Campus.

“This semester we thought we’d have to work harder to get more people involved with us,” said Mahgoub, “so we merged our organizing committee with another club called Movie Premiere Club.”

“Movie Premiere club and Musica club merged, and are currently sharing Organizing Committees,” said Adham Yassin, President of Movie Premiere club.

Movie Premiere Club gives practical sessions for students to practice all there is about movie production, and are in collaboration with Kasr El Cinema where they provide them with the theoretical sessions. At the end of the semester they do two movies, where they put what they’ve learnt into practice.

“We’re doing this project with Musica Club,” said Yassin, “where our members will get to do the production of the plot scenes of the musical, and the singers from Musica will do the acting.”

Nesma Mahgoub is a well-established soprano. She has been singing since the age of twelve, studying with Egyptian soprano Dr. Nevine Allouba. She has won many national and international awards. She has performed in main roles such as Dido in Dido and Aeneas, the first opera to ever be performed at AUC, which took place last semester. She also did the parts of Anita in West Side Story musical and Rizzo in Grease musical, both of which took place at the Cairo Opera House, in a Broadway production, in July-August 2009. Mahgoub is nominated for a major role in an Operetta to take place soon.

According to Mahgoub, Musica club will be doing excerpts from the musical Chicago however maintaining the plot structure will be through filming the events that link one song to the other, which is where Movie Premiere club comes in, to be shown on a wide cinema screen. The characters cast in the musical will be the one acting out the scenes.

“What’s really interesting that we’re doing with this production,” Mahgoub said, “is combining both the Chicago movie and the musical by using Musica on the aspect of music and dance, and Movie Film Premiere on the aspect of the filming.”

The movie element of the production will be handled by the Movie Premiere Club, and will be directed by Adham Yassin, who is also the president of the Movie Premiere Club.

Main roles for the production have been cast. Playing Velma Kelly will be Nesma Mahgoub. Dalia Farid will be doing the role of Roxie Hart. Performing Matron Mama Morton will be Therese Ananian. The role of the Lawyer Billy Flynn will be played by Ahmed Safey El Din.

The rest of the characters haven’t been finally cast yet. “We’re still in the process of choosing between people for some of the characters,” said Mahgoub. “We will also hold auditions for our dancers to choose the six imprisoned girls from.”

The vocal coach responsible for the music is renowned soprano Dr. Nevine Allouba. The choreographer is Salma Salem, an AUC student, who has done an amount of work choreographing outside of AUC, and also at Samia Allouba’s Center.

Mahgoub is working hard trying to get a costume designer and a costume production team, along with a set designer and a set production team. Mahgoub is also attempting to get an AUC student light designer.

According to Mahgoub, The budget will be approximately 30,000 EGP, or even more, depending on the income from tickets as well as sponsorship.

The wardrobe for the musical will not be as wild as it is in the real Chicago musical and movie. The outfits will be more conservative, yet still attractive, maintaining the theme of the musical. The university will not object, since the outfits won’t be controversial or exposed.

Music for Chicago is written by John Kander, and the lyrics were written by Fred Ebb. Chicago first opened in 1975 on Broadway, and ran for 936 performances.

Musica Club was founded last semester by Nesma Mahgoub. It started off with six members who performed in the AUC Talent Show “Seasons of Love” from Rent musical, and “Skid Row” from Little shop of Horrors musical.

 “It was a very good boom for us,” Mahgoub said, “leaping from having only six members performing just a couple of songs, to having a 30-member-cast working on such an exquisite production like Chicago.”

Mahgoub specifically chose the musical Chicago as the main project for her club this semester, particularly for its popularity and attractiveness. She thought it would be a good way to establish her club and make it well known among the body of AUC.

“Every single one of the cast, whether they’re singers, dancers, or both, are working very hard,” Mahgoub added. “This club is based on utter dedication, especially since we have a strict shortage in time.”

To promote the event Chicago and publicize for the club, Musica are doing a Mini-Talent Show that’s competition-free, which will be held in a about a couple of weeks. People are welcome to dance, sing, do magic tricks, martial arts, stand-up comedy, play an instrument, or present their talents in any way they enjoy. Anyone and Everyone can join.

Student opinion varied in anticipation to the show.

 “I’ve seen the play before, and I’ve seen the movie, “ said sophomore Charles Tanoh, “however it’ll be interesting seeing it in an Egyptian perspective. It would feel like a trippy experience. Chicago has the whole American concept, you have a mindset of how the play’s gonna be, but seeing AUC do that will be interesting.”

“I’d watch it, just for the sake of entertainment,” said junior Dina el Sisi.

Others weren’t as enthusiastic.

“I would definitely not watch it, I hate it. I hate the movie and I hate the musical,” said Frank Elstner

“Even though one might have bigger priorities and dedications, there are some things that people want to maintain in touch with like music, arts and theatre,” said Mahgoub.

Mahgoub said, “No matter how much you need something, no matter how much time you have, no matter how much stress you’re subjected to, if you really believe in what you want, and you have strong faith, you will achieve it.” 

 -By Nouran Khalil

“Egypt Through The Lens”: Art of History

If you think you have seen, or know everything about Egypt well think twice, because you haven’t seen it all. Whether you like Egyptian cinema, or you have a grip for architecture or night life in Cairo, you don’t have to look far.  Now you have the chance to see Egypt in a totally different way through the lens of a photographer.

The newest photography exhibition at the American University of Cairo (AUC), titled “Egypt Through The Lens”, takes you on a tour through different stages and phases in the history and culture of Egypt.

Through the lens of different photographers you will find images of actors, crafts men, the Friday prayers, night life in Egypt, people living in Upper Egypt and the Nile flooding.

“ I like the exhibition very much as it shows different aspects of Egypt” said Riham Ali Kassim, Art student. “It shows media and Islam, and other aspects of Egyptian life.”

In the exhibition you will see photos of famous Egyptian actors like Omar el Sherif, Mariam Fakhr el Din. There are also many impressive photos of Islamic Cairo, whether photos of the sun light passing through‘Arabisic’ windows;  architecture dating back to the Islamic period of Cairo.

The photographers have also taken shots of Egyptian crafters at work in Khan el Khalili, and Egyptian workers in Upper Egypt.

Despite the little publicizing the exhibition got, the university’s  president Arnold had visited it with a group of visitors.

“This is a soft opening exhibition, it wasn’t hardly announced for” said Dr. Shems Friedlander, lecturer and director in the Mass Communication Department.

Several students also visit the gallery but not quiet a lot, thus most of the time the gallery is relatively empty.

“About 10-15 people come to visit the gallery everyday” said Sameh Mahmud the gallery security.

One of the images that turned out to be a favorite to students was the image of a little kid looking straight into the camera while two men next to him very praying at the Friday prayers.

“I really like the picture of the little kid and the Arabisc window” said Kassim.

The exhibition is part of the series of shows the Sony Gallery, puts on through the year.

Created about 20 years ago and visited by about a 1000 each year, the Sony Gallery  hosts a lot of work by  professional photographers, to introduce photography to the AUC students and the community at large.

Outsiders are welcome to visit the gallery which is open everyday and will stay on show till the 8th of November in the Plaza level of the Business, Economics and Communications building (BEC).

-By Mennatallah Fouad Youssef

“Where Art Thou Romeo?”… He’s at the Cairo Opera House!

romeo and julietTwo young dreamy lovers whose untimely deaths ultimately unite their feuding families, is a heartbreaking story being performed as a ballet at the Cairo Opera House.

Romeo and Juliet ballet opened at the Cairo Opera House Oct. 16. It is a widely popular ballet adapted from the world-renowned Shakespearian play. The ballet is in three acts. It is being  performed by the Cairo opera Ballet Company, in cooperation with the Cairo Opera Orchestra.

Two musician composers wrote music for the same ballet. One was Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky, and the other was Sergey Prokofiev. The current performance of the ballet at the opera is of the one with Prokofiev’s music, (Op. 64). It is one of Prokofiev’s masterpieces that contains some of the most inspired and emotional passages in his whole output.

The last time Romeo and Juliet ballet was performed at the Cairo Opera House was four years ago, and the ballet was performed to Tchaikovsky’s music. Almost the same set and costumes were used for both performances.

Ahmed Yehia and Zurab Mikeladze are both performing the role of Romeo, while Anja Achin and Olga Dirda are both performing the role of Juliet. Conductor Nayer Nagui leads the Orchestra.

Other significant performers in the ballet include Ahmed Nabil and Mohmoud Hassan who perform the role of Mercutio, Ahmed saleh and Amr farouk who perform the role of Tybalt. Maged Hamdy and Mamdouh Hassan who play Benvolio. Along with significant members of the Cairo Opera Ballet Company including Dr. Sahar Helmy, Tijana Sebez, Oxana Betsmanova, Victoria Pashenko, Ira Prokopenko, Alexander Kreniok, and Carla Berard.

The artistic director of the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, a former first ballerina, along with Abd El Moneim Kamel, also a former soloist, choreographed the ballet.

The scenery was a very simple, yet beautiful and elegant, designed by Mohamed El Gharbawy. The costumes, designed by Marina Martisenko, gave a whole different color to the performance, and very much enhanced it. The costumes also gave a beautiful identification of the setting and era with which the play takes place; they also help a great deal in identifying the characters from one another, and the families from one another.

The outcome of the ballet was beautiful. Both the Cairo Opera Ballet Company and the Cairo Opera Orchestra outdid themselves in such a spectacular performance.

Remaining performances of the ballet take place at the Main Hall of the Cairo Opera House, on Oct. 21, 22, 23, and 25.

-By Nouran Khalil

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