Peace of Women

by Lenin El-Ramly

Lenin El-Ramly was born in Egypt in 1945. El-Ramly is a comic dramatist who audaciously questions the social conventions, hypocrisies and bigotries of both Egyptian society and the Arab world. His work encompasses popular television dramas, experimental theatre, and an oeuvre of approximately 40 plays and 12 films. His dramatic techniques vary from farce and parodyto satire and the absurd. El-Ramly has been granted the Prince Claus Award for his emphasis on political satire and comedy, and for maintaining a balance between popular entertainment and serious social, political and ideological satire.

 

The Nightmare

by Lenin El-Ramly

Lenin El-Ramly was born in Egypt in 1945. El-Ramly is a comic dramatist who audaciously questions the social conventions, hypocrisies and bigotries of both Egyptian society and the Arab world. His work encompasses popular television dramas, experimental theatre, and an oeuvre of approximately 40 plays and 12 films. His dramatic techniques vary from farce and parodyto satire and the absurd. El-Ramly has been granted the Prince Claus Award for his emphasis on political satire and comedy, and for maintaining a balance between popular entertainment and serious social, political and ideological satire.

 

Last Performance

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. 

Rendez-vous in the Sea of Rain

by Alexander Galin

 Two former Soviet astronauts meet to celebrate the anniversary of the date when they were supposed to land on the moon.  Because the American’s got there first, the lunar program was disbanded and the men never flew.  One now serves as a pilot to a super-wealthy oligarch, the other has continued in the space program as an impoverished professor, both have lost their dream.  The pilot has organized a party on their old lunar training module – built to simulate the sea of rain where they were to have landed many years ago.  He called upon an escort service to provide five young ladies to make the evening more fun.  The scientist is at a loss; among the girls he recognizes a student who attended his lectures at the university many years ago.  She is thrilled to see him again and will not abandon her ideal memory of how inspired her with a sense of meaning beyond her own difficult life.  He decides to save her from her fate of becoming a prostitute to the super-wealthy bandit that the pilot flies around. The girls all know that this work is her only hope for a life removed from poverty.  As the evening wears on neither can fulfill their present ambition, nor fully abandon the memory of a dream.

                    
Alexander Galin is one of Russia’s best-known playwrights, and also an accomplished screenwriter, and theatre and film director. A. Galin is a permanent leader of the Russian playwrights’ rating list, his plays have been staged in more than two hundred theatres across the country, and also in the most popular theatres in Europe, and Asia including productions at the Moscow Art Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in London, Odeon Theater in Paris, Schiller Theater in Berlin, Mingiey Theatre in Tokyo.  Seven of his plays are on Russian and world stages in 2005.  His films "The Delegation" (1993) and “ The Photo” (2003) received a number of national and international prizes. The movie “ The Marriage” based on his screenplay received a prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000.   Galin and the productions of his plays are recipients of prestigious prizes and awards such as Sir Lawrence Olivier Prize (United Kingdom), Ambassador of the Arts (USA). His play Stars in the Morning Sky (1982) had its world premiere at the Leningrad Maly Dramatic Theatre under the direction of Lev Dodin (1987). This production was performed during the New York tour of the Maly Dramatic Theatre and received excellent reviews in The New York Times and other major newspapers. The English-language premiere was at Los Angeles Theatre Center (USA), and many of his other plays have been performed through out United States. Galin is hailed as one of the leaders of a “new wave” of Russian playwrights who focus on the individual after decades of State political theater.

 

The Feeling of a Beard

by Ksenia Dragunskaya

Marina Derbarendicker, a young liteary scholar from Moscow, travels to the provincial town of V. Dvorki, to meet her friend Nikita U., a Moscow artist. While there, she meets the Cowboy, a shepherd with literary aspirations. After being encouraged by Marina to leave the country and travel to Moscow, the Cowboy’s request is denied by the head of the village Agricultural Council. Enraged, the Cowboy stabs the man twenty-six times and departs for Moscow. Called in by the government to quell the riots that began with the murder, Special Forces arrive in the village, only to be destroyed by a mythical creature that lives in the river.

 

Ksenia Dragunskaya is a playwright, prose writer. She graduated from the USSR State Cinematography Institute (Script Department). She has worked as an author and the host of various radio programs for children, as editor-in-chief of the fairy-tale newspaper “Once upon a time”. She has written three radio plays for children, a script for the film “I don’t believe you any more” and three books of stories for children. Her stories have been included into the schoolchildren reading-book on literature. She has written more than 10 plays for adults, six children's plays and two stage versions, all published by the most distinguished magazines and staged in many theatres in Moscow, Russia and all over the former Soviet Union. Her plays "Forever and Ever" and "The Red-Haired Play" were both short listed for the Anti-Booker prize, the latter forming the basis for a TV film. The plays were translated into English, French, German, Serbian and Japanese.

 

Her latest premieres are “Edith Piaff. My legionary”(staged by Roman Viktyuk), “The Feeling of the Beard” (Centre of  Playwrighting and Directing, director Olga Subbotina). “Мy Fair Lady” after the famous musical with events transferred into the Russian reality (director Dmitry Bertman, “Et Cetera” theatre company). “The Apple Thief” (Saint-Petersburg Academical Comedy Theatre, director Tatyaana Kozakova and Moscow Academical Satire Theatre, director Olga Subbotina). “The Red-Haired Play” was named the best play for teenagers at the All-Russia competition and was short listed for the Anti-Booker prize, the latter forming the basis for a TV film. The plays “All the boys are fools”, “Big Fur Papa”, “Upside Down”, “The Secret of the Disappearing Snow” are running in many cities of Russia and former USSR. She is a member of the Russian Writers Association and of the Russian Theatre Association. 

The Word PROGRESS on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True

by Matei Visniec

A surrealistic and deeply ironic look at a family of refugees, that returns to a place reminiscent of the former Yugoslavia.  Two young brothers-in-law insult each other across a road as they exchange news a new baby born to one man’s sister.  Refugees return to the land they were chased off of by a super patriotic Soldier.  A Father and Mother return to their old burnt-out home and begin to look for the body of their missing Son, so that they can bury him, mourn and carry on.  One Son seeks recognition by the Mother, who seems obsessed with locating the other Son.  Their old neighbors have secrets, and a new young neighborhood is selling bones.  The Father has no recourse but to begin to dig up the old stinking well, the backyard, the forest, and finally the actual burial site.  But, as the bones are dug up and placed on the kitchen table, the one and only Son brings home ghost guests to reclaim those bones.  We realize that the land is populated by both the living and the dead. And, so, we travel the same absurd and sad journey with the parents, who finally find their lost Son’s bones.  In a seemingly obscure sub-plot we follow the plight of a young woman, who in the final scene we understand is the sister (young mother) from the very first scene.

 

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood. 

How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients

by Matei Visniec

The action takes place at the Central Hospital for Mental Disorders in Moscow in 1953, several weeks before the death of Josef Stalin.  A writer is sent into the hospital to use “art & literature” to redeem the mentally ill by telling them the history of Communism in a way that they can understand it (and be saved by the utopian vision of the future).  The writer begins his story (very funny the more one knows about how Communism was practiced within the Soviet bloc) as a subversive storyteller, using childlike language to recount the events, with all their absurdities articulated.  The deeper the writer progresses into his storytelling, the deeper he gets caught in the bizarre characters and events taking place within the “hospital”.  There are partisans lurking in every corner, including a secret cabal of “authentic revolutionaries” masquerading as mad (typical Soviet political prisoners) and meeting within hospital grounds unbeknownst to the hysterical doctors and nurses, fully invested in the cult of Stalin worship that the others reject.  When Stalin’s death is announced, he is given a choice to either join the group of “patients” or the group of “doctors” and for fear of everyone, he chooses the doctors, but general havoc ensues as all the lives propped up by the “story of Communism” collapse.  In the final scene, Stalin himself wanders by outside the building windows – as ghost or a mental patient? 

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood. 

Horses at the Window

by Matei Visniec

An absurdist journey through three centuries of war and destruction:  It’s 1699.  A Son leaves his anxious Mother to go off to war.  His Mother is informed of his mysterious death by a mysterious Messenger bearing red carnations.  It’s 1745.  A Father, in a wheel-chair, and his Daughter banter bitterly, in the same kitchen.  The Father goes off to his bedroom and the mysterious Messenger appears, again with red carnations, to inform her that her Father has gone mad fighting in battle.  It’s 1815.  In the same kitchen, a Husband/Soldier is dressing for battle as the Wife prepares the table for a sumptuous meal as he recreates the battle on the dining room table and rushes off to the war.  The same Messenger arrives, carnations in hand, to report his death by trampling.  As he recounts the waste of the Husband leading his soldiers to battle & then trampled to death by them in their fervor, a rain of boots fall on the Wife and ever-returning Messenger, who reveals he is the ever-dying soldier.

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood. 

The Chekhov Machine

by Matei Visniec

 During playwright Anton Chekhov’s last days, as he is dying of TB, he is haunted by all the characters from his plays.  He interacts with them in imaginative scenes that extrapolate the characters moving beyond and outside the plays themselves and takes Chekhov through his own dying – death – dying, into his final state as a figure in a grey and empty Soviet-style wax museum (along with the rest of his characters).  The play is a philosophical contemplation (Visniec writes) of writing, death, and certainly other things – a writer who can no longer write, who is trapped and wandering lost within his past & his imagination, with no way to move forward in art or life.  In the ultimate scene, Chekhov visits with the character of infant Bobik, now grown into a man guarding the dusty Chekhov Museum – a vision of old culture lost, devalued and replaced by the demoralizing grey world of contemporary Russian/Eastern European life. 

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood. 

The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield in the Bosnian War

by Matei Visniec

In a series of both real and surreal vignettes, we follow the relationship that develops between two women: Kate is an American Harvard-trained psychologist working in Bosnia with those digging up the mass graves and recording atrocities after the Bosnian war; Dorra is a mute victim of a politically motivated gang rape (pregnant).  At first we believe that Kate is attempting to heal Dorra and she reports on her encounters with her in her diary, speaking with cool scientific detachment.  Dorra resists all communication from Kate and is only known to us when she is alone with her hate, anger at God, and determination to end her own life rather than life with the agony of her imminent birthing of a child.  Soon we realize that both women are institutionalized in this German hospital, Kate because of her own breakdown after looking at so many mass graves and trying to retrieve corpses and Dorra because of her unwillingness to return to any normal life.  In a series of scenes and monologues, the women’s scarred lives become intertwined in both expected and unexpected ways.  Ultimately, there is a surprising mutual redemption, leaving the audience with an oddly hopeful ending.  The ending is quite powerful despite the weight of the subject matter and the almost predictability of the character evolutions.  This is a credit to the playwrights’ ability to seek and find essential truth beyond the specific circumstances, giving the play a philosophical resonance and a true contemplation of the female experience of this brutal male practice.  

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood.