What if the reason behind women’s oppression in the Arab society is other women?! And what if the source of implementing gender discrimination between males and females are the mothers who implement what they were raised suffering fromon younger generations? These are the answers, young Egyptian writer and director Ahmed Al-Attar seeks to find through his latest play, “Mama”, which sets its world premiere at the French Festival d’Avignon (Avignon Off Festival).
“Mama” is a theatrical play written and directed by Al-Attar.
In 75 minutes, Al-Attar takes audiences behind the scenes of women’s oppression in Arab society. To what may look like men dominating women and controlling their lives, he sheds light on another perspective of which women are the source of implementing these ideas in their children, while growing up.
Featuring the story of a bourgeois Cairo-based family, Al-Attar highlights how a mother and her daughter-in-law manage their house, relationships, and lines among them and their male spouses and family.
Showcasing the role women play in comprehending the male domination over other females, Al-Attar presents a combination of a little drama, and a delightful comedy.
“The Arab society is a purely masculine society. We must go beyond the obvious and search even more to be able to change,” Al-Attar said, adding, “The mother is often the one who raises the children. She feeds them the same traditional concepts of the patriarchal society. She contributes to the transmission of masculine ideas. I try in ‘Mama’ to highlight the conflicts that occur between women in the same family for reasons of control and domination.”
Al-Attar follows the school of showcasing the daily dilemmas of Egyptian society on stage. With the belief of showcasing another perspective of social issues, he tackles what most people see as a closed taboo.
In his previous plays, “La vie est belle”, “Waiting for My Uncle from America”, and “The Last Supper”, Al-Attar also tackled social sides of regular Egyptian families from different perspectives.
“I never thought of making a trilogy in the true sense of the word. But the three plays touch on the theme of the family. That’s why together, they constitute a series,” he explained.
The play features the patriarchal society, and the breeding ground of the same oppressive monsters. Father, son, and grandchildren are then only the extras of a drama, in which the insidious violence of domestic matriarchy surfaces, according to the play’s official press release.
“Mama” stars Abdelrahman Magdy, Dalia Ramzi, Hadeer Moustafa, Heba Rifaat, Menha El Batrawy, Menna El Touny, Mohamed Hatem, Mona Soliman, Nanda Mohammad, Noha El Kholy, Ramsi Lehner, Teymour El Attar, Belal Ali, and Seif Mohamed.
As for the name of the play, Al-Attar particularly chose it as “Mama is a common word understood by everyone and that summarises the idea of the play from its beginning,” adding, “In order to better highlight the subject mentioned, we must move away from all sanctifications. This allows us to better approach our problems.”