Egypt censors play about run-up to 2011 revolution

19.03.2018

An Egyptian theatre group said it was cancelling a play due to open on Sunday as part of an annual festival after state censors demanded that five scenes be removed. The announcement came hours before Al-Mabad was to perform the play "Before the Revolution" of playwright and independent theatre director Ahmed El Attar.

Al-Mabad and the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) "regret to announce that Sunday and Monday's performances have been cancelled," the festival organisers said in a statement on Facebook.

The state censors demanded that five scenes be omitted from the play, they said.

Director Attar "felt that this would undermine the dramatic construction of the play and would empty it of its content", according to the statement. As a result he chose to cancel Sunday's premiere and Monday's performance rather than cut out anything and the troupe has appealed the decision. It asked the state censors to "set up a committee" to see the play on Monday, hoping that a second viewing would sway them and allow him to reschedule the play on Tuesday.

The play "Before the Revolution" depicts events in Egypt in the run-up to the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran president Hosni Mubarak. The director's decision to cancel two showings rather than agree to the demands of the censors comes at a time when freedoms and liberties are increasingly stifled in Egypt.

The move also comes days before the March 26-28 presidential election.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi – who is regularly accused of cracking down on dissent – is expected to win a second term after a succession of would-be candidates were abruptly sidelined, leaving only one other person in the race.    (AFP)

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