Mahfouz characters go on trial in old Cairo

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

CAIRO: In the Wekalet Al-Ghoury district of old Cairo, a convoy of prisoners was paraded before an audience and made to stand trial.

They stood accused of murder, revenge, thievery, conniving to commit violence, treachery, and a slew of other unmentionable – and perhaps, unpardonable – sins.

And so began “Mohakamat Shakhseyat Naguib Mahfouz (The Trial of Naguib Mahfouz s Characters) – a play hosted by the cultural development fund (CDF) on the periphery of the 23rd General Union of Arab Writers Conference as a bid to celebrate the works of the late Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz.

Written in outstanding poetic language by renowned poet Foad Haggag, the play kicked off with oud (lute) playing and singing by Sayed Ragab and a poetry recital by Haggag.

Each scene revolved around a specific main character from each of Mahfouz’s novels protesting the charges presented in court.

One defendant, Said Mahran, the protagonist of Mahfouz s Al-Less Wal Kelab (The Thief and the Dogs) is a thief betrayed by his wife and his friend. He spent years in jail plotting and waiting for the right moment when he could confront those who had ruined his life.

While trying to take his revenge, Mahran accidentally kills two innocent people. Said is never redeemed in the end.

Before the jury, Mahran tried to justify his thievery by explaining the hardships he faced growing up.

Nefeesa, the protagonist of Bedaya Wa Nehaya (A Beginning and an End), who became a prostitute to support her family and later committed suicide, blames Mahfouz for creating a lamentable, wretched destiny for her.

In a twist of fate, she takes on Mahfouz himself, in a soliloquy demanding to have lived a normal life with a husband and kids.

The famous Si El-Sayed of Mahfouz s trilogy (Been Al-Qasreen, Qasr Al-Shouq and Al-Sokaria) was another defendant. He is a merchant who is a strict, bossy father and husband during the day and a playboy at night.

The show presents Si El-Sayed as somebody suffering the discontents of life and not satisfied with the duality he is forced to adopt.

“Mohakamat Shakhseyat Naguib Mahfouz was published by the General Authority for Cultural Palaces in 2003 within a series of dramatic texts.

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