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Egypt: We Will Write a New Constitution – a dramatic constitutional review

Written By | Feb 8, 2014

CAIRO, Egypt February 8, 2014 – As the Egyptians prepared for the January referendum in order to ratify the new constitution designed to replace the controversial constitution of 2012, young artists prepared a powerful improvisational theatrical experience.

Mazen El Gharabawey is a not only young,  he is the only young artist to receive the state prize during the last 30 years for his play  “We will write a new constitution.”  Gharabawey bravely decided to stage the drama about the sensitive issue of writing a new constitution in one of the Ministry of Culture’s theaters

El Gharabawey belongs to the generation of artist who participated in the January 25th, 2011 as well as the June 30th revolution. He was among the Tahrir square youth whose main concern was a better future for their country. The dilemma of drafting a new constitution inspired El Gharabawey to select his cast of 14 actors, some of them amateurs, in order to enhance the technique of improvisation which will empower the credibility of the theme.

The 14 artists wore black T-shirts with the letters in the play’s title spelled out. The , each of which had a letter  which represented each of the letters in the plays title “We Will Write a New Constitution” actors embodied the current issues of Egyptian society, such as unemployment, sexual harassment, rights of women and the elderly, and hygiene.

The drama’s nine scenes are each based on one of the nine core articles of the Egyptian constitution.

At the end of the play, a questionnaire was distributed among the audience asking what they felt the form of a new constitution should be:

  1. A written or unwritten constitution;
  2. An objective or a formal one;
  3. A rigid or a flexible one.

The nine articles, or scenes, of the play  were themed:

  1. Begin with yourself.
  2. Your work is more credible than your swearing.
  3.  No sexual harassment.
  4. Live with dignity.
  5. Your voice as a woman is freedom and revolution.
  6. The right of self -expression and innovation.
  7. The soverenity of the people.
  8. Was an interactive scene between the actors and the audience.
  9. Fulfill your dream.

The scenography of the play was powerful with the several pages, each representing excerpts from the constitution, scattered  around the stage.

Critics lauded the idea of the play, calling it “brilliant,” saying young people need to demand a new constitution that can represent the future of their country.

The play explains very powerfully what Egypt’s constitution should be.

When El Gharabawey was asked about the future of the theater after the Arab spring and his role as an artist he said: “I was challenged as a young artist when I read the complicated articles of a constitution and hence I wondered how I can explain it to an average Egyptian in a humanitarian simple method rather than a rigid form of laws”.

El Gharabawey added that after two revolutions, it became the right of an artist to interact with people. “Theater will flourish even more as it has a very powerful message and a duty towards the society.”

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Anwaar Abdalla

Anwaar Abadallah Khalik Ibrahim has her Ph.D. from Ain Shams University (1999, first degree honour) and currently lectures on Civilization and Cultural Affairs for Helwan University. Dr. Abdalla Kahlik Ibrahim also works as an official coordinator for the cultural exchange program between Helwan Uni and TSU in the USA entitled “Cultural Immersion 2011-2014.” Additionally, Ms. Abdallah is a member of the Egyptian and Arab women’s writer’s union and the Cairo Women Association. She is also the translator of several books published by the Ministry of Culture including Shadows on the Grass, Impossible Peace and The Secret Rapture. Dr. Ibrahim is also an accomplished author and essayist in both Arabic and English publications.