Thursday, 3 November 2011

2011 getting old, Red Tomato warming up!!

And all of a sudden we entered the month of November!
Time has flown since we came back to our “duties” after resting the month of Ramadan.

And we haven’t even really been able to be Clowns yet!

So then what have we been up to?
Well, quite a lot of Workshop training…

Workshops with Street children, Social workers & Refugees:


We did a very interesting workshop in cooperation with Médecins du Monde-Egypt.

The project was to give drama and pedagogic skills to social workers, and simultaneously make a drama experience to give an opportunity of self-expression to a group of street children and to present their theatre play to audiences. 


The training was done with social workers & street children from 6 local NGOs. The play was performed the first time 27 October in the Children’s Park, Sayida Zeinab. There will be a new opportunity to perform for the group in December         

At the same time, the project initiated last spring with Ricerca e Cooperazione has now entered its second phase: the social workers applying their new skills from the drama workshops we taught, to train children in their own NGOs. We are doing field visits and give advice and support. On October 9th, an “open day” for all the children of the NGOs was held. About 100 children met and got to know each other through a day of playing theatre games together. There will be a second such meeting in February.

And just in these days we are getting ready to start a training together with CRS (Catholic Relief Services). We will be working with some 20 refugee children from different nationalities to produce a theatre play. The work will be done during November / December.

But not all is doing Workshops!

Year two of Community Theatre about Refugees in Egypt:
On the theatre front we have started the Second year of performing “Going to the Neighbours’ House”, sponsored by Terre des Hommes.. This is a theatre play that was created to raise awareness in Egyptian communities about their neighbours who are refugees. With a cast of five Egyptian actors, and eight refugees from Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Iraq, the play aims to raise awareness among Egyptians about refugees living in the country, and to fight stereotypes and suspicion towards the “other”. Through 40 minutes of sharing experiences, stories and song, the play transmits a sense of what is shared between human beings, rather than what separates us. The performance is followed by an open discussion with the audience.
This year we have two new actors in the troupe: Mahmoud 13 years old from Cairo, and Emanuel 15 years from South Sudan. We have started rehearsals. The première of the new tour will be on November 20th on World Food Day. Then we will be performing through winter in communities of Cairo, by cooperation with Youth Centres’, Schools, Community organisations etc.

More Community Theatre?

It is still only a thought, but … it might happen that preparations are up and running full speed in only two weeks’ time!! To create a theatrical “SOAP OPERA” in seven episodes, tackling the uncertainties and everyday struggles of the poorest of the urban poor of Cairo. The organisers of a series of Psycho Social workshops in some of the most deprived inner city communities of the city have approached us to create this piece of drama… The perspective of doing the exercise is super exiting. We really hope the project comes together practically, and then we GO!

And ... no Clowning? Well, we are planning something...

New Clown performance: INTERACTIVE street theatre:

We are busy planning this year’s main artistic project for Red Tomato.
We are aiming to start creating a new street clown performance towards spring, and then take it on tour through the whole length of the Egyptian Nile, from Alexandria in the north to Aswan in the south, passing by Cairo, Minya, Asiut, Sohag and Qena to get there.

The idea of the project is to create a fully interactive street performance.

After having always looked for forms to actively participate the audience in our shows, and to be quick to improvise on any initiatives arising from the audiences, our focus is now is to take improvisation a full step forward. To create a show that actually can not be complete without the interaction of the audience. It will be a show that prompts the viewer to act and to interact, not only with the Clowns, but also with each other.

We are ready with building the project idea, both the artistic content, and the practical plan for organising the tour. We now will be busy finding out how to get it on rail… yes… that’s right, finding the partners who will be wanting to support the idea. We already have some good beginnings to that though! We feel positive about it 

But can we sit quiet and spend our time being workshop trainers and project managers??
Are we not going to put on our Red Tomato Noses?

Yes we are!!

Performing “Yes Chief!” Clown Show:

Street Clown performance “Yes Chief!”, dealing with relations of authoritarian power, was created last spring after a looong difficult period of dealing with much bigger events in Egypt, at the time, than creating theatre… It was not an easy ride, but we got to our destination. The show was first performed on World Refugee Day in June for a much exited audience of some 500 refugee children. Participation was overwhelming, so to say… 
Click here for a video report made in Shourouk Newspaper 
during the rehearsal period:

We are in these days going back to rehearsals in order to start performing “Yes Chief!” again. The new launch will be on an event organised by a Community Centre in the Medieval, dense, neighbourhood of Cairo, November 15th.

After that we are engaged by CRS to perform in Refugee Community Schools around Cairo. We will do at least 18 performances in this project, going late into February or early March.


Yes, welcome, everybody to come check out what we are up to.
And welcome with ideas, suggestions or any support.

This eventful year is closing in on its end. It has been an overwhealming experience, with great creative spirit and cooperative energy being released with a bang! It is the beginning of something new and positive. Yet, merely a beginning... We have to just fully be in this year to its very last moment. And then start holding our breath for what next year will bring!

Meanwhile, the five members of Red Tomato – Aly & Aly, Hany, Diana, Jakob – we just try to keep going with our multi-disciplinary clowning. We are convinced that what we are trying to do is as important now as it ever was. Laughing when times are sad can be a good thing. And apart from laughing, to keep being critical and stimulating creative spirit and independent judgement is essential. And to stay open to the other, choosing dialogue and sharing as the better way to go ahead into the unknown.

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