by Nabil Baghat
The LAST PERFORMANCE is a play within a play. This structure directly reflects the system by which Eygpt, like most governments in the region, preoccupies its citizens with a higher and more distant cause (such as Palestine, Iraq, etc.), in order to divert the people from the governments' transgressions. The play exposes the inner workings of this game, the negotiations between the government and the cultural/intellectual elite, journalists, etc.
Last Performance is about a theatre group that is in the midst of a production about Palestine–time: Judgement Day. Everyone is dead. Mohammed Al Durra (the Mohamed of Mahmud Darwish's poem, a young Palestinian boy, one of the first casualties of the Intifada redux) is ruling over the people who killed him. The Producer, Sayed Al-Dollar (Mr. Dollar) stops the performance in the middle of Mohamed al Durra taking leadership. The Producer insists on a performance with music, dance–in other words, a safe middle eastern strip tease. The theatre group resists and decide not to finish the Palestine show–and, instead, decide to tell their stories. The actors lock everyone, the Producer and the audience inside the theatre. The Producer plays the role of the King, the Assistant Producer is the Prime Minister, and the chorus of actors "play" the citizens, as they re create, in a sort of fictionalized reality show, present day Egypt and the Arab world. Ultimately, the play examines the role of hate and the inability for the Arab citizen to fight for freedom.
Nabil Mohammad Bahgat Al Hidaya Abdel Fattah was born in Egypt in 1975. Bahgat received a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Arabic Languages and Literature from Zagazig University and a PhD in Egyptian Theater from ZaqZiq University. Bahgat is an assistant professor of theatre criticism at Helwan University as well as the producing artistic director of the WAMDA Group. Publications include The Theatre of Egyptian Playwright Abadie Khairy: An Anaylitcal Study, The Theatre of Egyptian Playwright Abu Al-Seoud Al-Ebiary: An Analytical Study and The Last Performance. Awards include the National Collegiate Award for Best Theatre Criticism, 2000, the National Collegiate Award for Best New Play, 2001 and the National Collegiate Award for Best Theatre Criticism, 2001.