Aiming to introduce Egyptian audiences to horror theatre and provide a different perspective of this kind of art, “Al Ferqa 500 B” theatrical troupe will start its tour outside Cairo on 2 March. The show will be hosted by Abdel Moneam Gaber’s theatre in Alexandria after the great success the play achieved during ten continuous nights in Cairo. The play “Ibn Eshaq’s Manuscript” is based on a bestselling novel of the same name by leading horror author Hassan Al-Gendy.
“For the last few years, we witnessed that comic plays dominated the theatrical scene in Egypt, and we started wondering what is the new genre we should present,” said Ahmed Zaki, the writer and director of the play.
“We found this interesting novel and started working on its theatrical treatment starting from June. However, we found out that we need to add another philosophical perspective to come out with a play that blends horror, thriller, and philosophy,” he added.
The play mainly tackles the eternal conflict between Adam and the demon, and it added many different characters to the original ones extracted from the novel.
“We cannot claim that we are the first artists to present a horror play in Egypt, because we have already seen a previous play called “Half Dead,” taken from a novel by the same author. However, we can claim that we are the first ones to present horror with these advanced techniques that managed to engage the audience from the first minute,” he noted.
The play presents an intensive dose of breathtaking horror at the first 15 minutes of the show and then takes the audience into a journey inside their minds and souls. That was not an easy task, as he spent a month and a half fully dedicated to working on the treatment of the novel.
“We were surprised by people’s feedback about the play and that is why we decided to perform in Alexandria. Although it is usually too costly for us to move all the equipment and materials we need, we are always interested to meet new people with different backgrounds to spread our philosophy of art,” he said.
In fact, this wasn’t the first play performed by “Al Ferqa 500 B”, as they have previously presented many other artistic works for a number of leading novelists and writers such as Al-Warta “The Predicament” by Tawfiq Al-Hakim, Al-Mazad “The Auction” by Khaled Al-Sawy, Unshudat Al-Dam “Blood Song” by Mustafa Mahmoud, and many others.
“We now have 40 artists in our troupe. This number includes musicians, writers, directors, and actors, as well as stylists and technicians. However, we consider ourselves amateurs who don’t earn a living from this hobby,” he noted.
In his opinion, the theatre in Egypt cannot be a method of gaining enough money and raising children. Unlike any other profession, theatre artists must find other jobs. Their theatre depends mainly on various self-funding techniques.
“We collect money from each other and pay for the expenses of decorations, clothes, and equipment. After that, we collect another amount of money for reserving a theatre for the shows or travelling to perform in other governorates. People ask us what we gain, but we always say that meeting the audience and conveying a message to them is our main motivation,” he explained.
However, he is always optimistic about their loyal fans, whom follow the kind of art they present everywhere. Since the troupe started in 2011, they managed to create their own audience, whom they can easily contact through posting on social media. Therefore, they don’t usually need to pay for advertising and publicity.
“Currently, we are working on two new different plays: a comedy one and a horror one. We are hopefully expecting a lot of success with them,” he concluded.