In the play Tahrir Monologues, one of the characters says that at the time of the revolution he did not realise people were writing Egyptian history. But those who fought and protested in the streets to bring about the fall of Mubarak, of course, did just that. Tahrir Monologues was conceived based on this simple statement, because who better than Egyptians themselves could tell the stories of the 18 days of the uprising and record the history of the revolution? Pondering the wealth of other countries, a character says: “They have machines and electronics, we have the people.”
On 24 June a film version of the play was screened in front of a small audience in the cultural venue 10 Mahmoud Bassiouny Street. The movie recorded performances of the play, and is directed by Ahmed Abdallah.
From February 2011, when the play was written, the testimonies shown in the movie have a different resonance now. Two years after the beginning of the revolution, its first 18 days seem remote and the movie seems like a perfect vehicle of remembrance. In one scene a character finds himself in a pro-Mubarak demonstration, and an old man tells him he wants the president to stay for the “stability of the country”. The audience reaction at the Mahmoud Bassiouny flat was tense, and suddenly the movie seemed a lot more relevant.
The creation of Tahrir Monologues began in the aftermath of January 2011 by gathering of testimonies those involved in the uprising. “These stories are true stories we collected from the people [who were there],” said May Mostafa, who is in charge of the project’s publicity. “They are usually ignored by history, so if it were not for Tahrir Monologues they would have been forgotten. We keep them alive.”
Since its premiere in May 2011, Tahrir Monologues has been well received by audiences. Instead of melodramatic cliches, the play tells the stories that made the revolution, those of average people, heard a hundred times and finally concentrated into an hour and a half of theatre.
As the latest addition to the Remembrance Project, the movie Tahrir Monologues makes the play available to a much wider audience. “Now that we filmed the first Tahrir Monologues, we will perform again with new stories,” May Mostafa added. In the play, and now the movie, it is said that the revolution continues. In the closing scene the characters move to the front of the stage and scream out the remaining injustices that exist.