Duncan Macmillan’s interactive masterpiece ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ to premiere in Arabic colloquial language



Sun, 15 May 2022 - 10:25 GMT


Sun, 15 May 2022 - 10:25 GMT

File:Every Brilliant Thing play poster.

File:Every Brilliant Thing play poster.



From May 13- 17 the Rawabet Art Space stages a play titled “Every Brilliant Thing” written by British playwright and director Duncan Macmillan.

Originally published in the UK in 2013, in no time, the play has become one of the most successful theatrical texts of the past decade and has been performed across numerous stages in the UK and internationally. The text takes the viewers on a heartfelt journey through a specific human condition. As Helen Meany noted in the Guardian’s review of the play at the Abbey theatre, Dublin, the play makes “a plea for kindness and mutual support that seems particularly timely.”

Every Brilliant Thing has been translated to Arabic by the Egyptian director and playwright Ahmed El Attar who also created a mise-en-scène and adaptation for its premiere in Egypt. “I chose the Egyptian colloquial language, and an adaptation that makes the plot more accessible to the local viewers. In fact, in the notes to the play, Macmillan encourages the directors to create an adaptation that would fit the public they address. As such, apart from translating, I have also worked on a suitable adaptation of the text,” El Attar clarifies.

The show is produced by Orient for Film and Theatre Productions, with the support of the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, the Arab Arts Focus, and the Arab Arts Support Fund in Paris. The translation and publication of the text in Arabic was supported by the British Council in Cairo. The play stars Nanda Mohammad with the music compiled by Hassan Khan.

“Every Brilliant Thing is a brilliant text; it is a real lesson in theatre,” El Attar clarifies adding that the performance relies on one actor on an empty stage. With no scenography, no costume design, no make-up, the actor is only supported by minimal accessories and music. “The play manages to engage the audience, while providing clear-cut emotions and inciting ample reflections. At the same time, its topic is extremely important, especially in our times, locally and internationally.”

While the play was staged numerous times by a variety of international troupes, El Attar approaches the text without any references. “I haven’t seen any previous staging of Every Brilliant Thing. I haven’t even watched the theatrical film produced by HBO. It’s better this way as my mise-en-scène relied solely on the relationship between the actress, the text and me.”

Every Brilliant Thing’s Arabic translation is part of the bigger project Theatre in translation - Contemporary European theater in Arabic which aims at translating a total of 24 contemporary plays by European playwrights to Arabic. With the Arab world’s current crisis in the playwriting spectrum, the presentation of contemporary European texts can help in developing the local scene. As El Attar explains, “through the Theatre in translation project, we can revive the most important element of the theatrical experience, which is the text.”

The project choses the texts written in 2005 onwards, putting in mind that they were published in the playwright’s country of origin and/or produced on stage. To meet its potential production in the Arab countries – many of which go through harsh economic conditions – the focus is placed on plays that do not require large casts and grand productions.
“We hope that through these works, which vary in their formats and artistic perspectives, the Arab playwrights will be able to develop a creative movement in their respective countries, pushing forward the performing arts field and offering theatrical works at the international level,” El Attar explains.

The selected texts will be translated and published in groups of six plays, and published on a website in order to ensure that they can reach a large number of audiences around the Arab world. Every Brilliant thing is part of the first six plays released, the other five texts are by playwrights from Finland, France, Portugal, Switzerland and Austria.

“The play is dedicated to my late teacher, director, actor and professor of drama Mahmoud El Lozy [1958-2021], who chose Every Brilliant Thing from among ten English texts to be part of the translation project. Without him, the theatre specialists and the audiences of the Arab world would not have been able to enjoy this wonderful text,” El Attar concludes.
Every Brilliant Thing will be staged at Rawabet Art Space, on five consecutive days, between 13 and 17 May, at 8pm. Lobby doors open thirty minutes prior to the start of the show. Once a performance has begun, no late entries are permitted. Seating is on a first-come-first-serve basis. Wearing a face mask at all times is mandatory





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