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Articles, Reviews, Volume 4

The Last Supper by Ahmed El Attar

The Last Supper by Ahmed El Attar
By Marvin Carlson and Philippa Wehle
Arab Stages, Volume 2, Number 2 (Spring 2016)
©2016 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publication

Despite the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the coming to power of Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in 1914, the life style of the Cairo elite has not significantly changed, a situation that forms the basis of The Last Supper, by Egyptian director Ahmed El Attar and his organization, the Temple Independent Theatre Company, which continues, despite more and more strict government oversight, to offer an independent theatrical voice in Egypt’s capital.  Their efforts were recognized this summer when this play was presented to much praise first at the Avignon Festival in July and then at the Théâtre de Gennevillers in Paris in November as part of the Parisian Autumn Festival and in January of 2016 in Brussels.

With his 2004 satire, Mother I want to be a Millionaire, El Attar firmly established himself, along with Mahmoud al-Lozy, as one of the most important and most outspoken dramatists and directors in the contemporary Egyptian theatre.  His best-known work, On the Importance of Being and Arab, an autobiographical monodrama performed by himself, was first presented in 2009. The Last Supper, his most recent work, made its premiere in Cario’s Falaki Theatre in November of 2014.  El Attar placed both the audience and the action on the Falaki stage, creating an intimacy that truly suggested that the actors and audience were part of the same community.  When the production began to tour to Avignon and elsewhere, it was presented in a more conventional proscenium situation which, like the language and many local references, created a distance that was far from the intention of the original.  Still, the work’s social satire surmounted these obstacles, as can be seen in the following report from Avignon by Philippa Wehle, a part of her report on that Festival which appeared in the online journal European Stages, 5 (Fall, 2015):

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