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Articles, Reviews, Volume 4

Two Egyptian Playwrights in Boston: Hany Abdel Naser’s They Say Dancing is a Sin and Yasmeen Emam’s The Mirror

Two Egyptian Playwrights in Boston:
Hany Abdel Naser’s They Say Dancing is a Sin 
and Yasmeen Emam’s The Mirror
A Theatre Review by Sarah Moawad
Arab Stages, Volume 2, Number 2 (Spring 2016)
©2016 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publication

As we wait to see how another installment in Egypt’s revolutionary saga unfolds, a more silent, subtle revolution has been underway in Boston, where in late January, Egyptian playwrights Hany Abdel Naser and Yasmeen Emam flew in from Cairo to attend English-language readings of their plays at the city’s Huntington Theatre.   Abdel Naser’s They Say Dancing is a Sin and Emam’s The Mirror are one-woman monodramas that explore themes of corruption, class inequality, and contradictory social and cultural norms, especially as they pertain to women. The two plays have been translated from Arabic into English for the anthology Tahrir Tales: Plays from the Egyptian Revolution. Last week marked the second time they were performed by American actors.

Providing intimate glimpses into the lives of two very different women – a self-assured, experienced, street-smart belly dancer and a troubled, insecure young woman – the monologues transcend cultural specificities to become universally relatable. This was an explicit goal for the production’s director and co-translator of the anthology, Rebekah Maggor, who wanted to present Egyptian theatre in a way that makes it relevant to American audiences, without sacrificing or diminishing its authenticity and particular subjectivities.

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