Directing Askar wa-Harameyya: A Professor's Experience By Doaa Abdelghany, Mayar Magdy and Rania Yehia

Mahmoud El Lozy, Professor at the Department of Arts, giving a lecture in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building at The American University in Cairo. Photo by Mayar Magdy.

El Lozy introducing his latest Arabic theater production “Askar wa-Harameyya.” Photo by Mayar Magdy.

“This is my third time to direct a play by the Egyptian playwright Alfred Farag,” said El Lozy. Photo by Mayar Magdy.

On Monday, Nov. 7, the Arabic and Islamic Civilization Department hosted Professor Mahmoud El Lozy from the Department of Arts at The American University in Cairo, to talk about his experience in directing the upcoming Arabic theater production “Askar wa-Harameyya” by Egyptian playwright Alfred Farag.

El Lozy had previously directed two plays written by Farag and decided to direct “Askar wa-Harameyya” as his third, because he found it very interesting when he read it for the first time as a young man. In addition, he stated that “Farag’s play has an educational aspect to it,” especially since it revolves around the idea of exposing corruption in society. The play talks about corruption in Egypt under Nasser’s regime but with a comedic approach.

During the lecture, El Lozy mentioned that he and his team faced a lot of difficulties when directing and producing this play and various other plays on campus. The first problem they tend to face is the reaction of the audience and their harsh criticism towards student performances. He added that, “The problems we face when working on student plays is that the audience tends to compare the performance to professional ones.”

Another difficulty they faced when working on this production was the budget cuts by the university for the theater program. El Lozy said that one of the reasons he chose this play was that it has a “single decor” which would help in decreasing the expenses. He also declared, “This might be the last time for us to have a production on Malak Gabr Theater, personally this will be the last time for me direct a play on-campus because it’s becoming too difficult and the administration is putting too many obstacles.”

One of the attendees, Nouran Allam, conveyed her excitement to attend the play, “I expect the play to be fun, I've previously attended other AUC productions and I've really enjoyed them so I am really excited for this one. The play will be performed in Malak Gabr Theater on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

The attendees listening to El Lozy’s experience of teaching theater at AUC. Photo by Mayar Magdy.

El Lozy discussing the difficulties they met at AUC's Malak Gabr Theatre. Photo by Mayar Magdy.

Organizer of the event, Professor Adam Talib, first from the left, paying attention to El Lozy's talk. Photo by Mayar Magdy.

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