The world of theater is exactly that. . .another world! In fact, its one of the few spaces on Earth, where humanity can experience the fictional world, in the living, breathing flesh. Even if its just for that moment, theater makes it possible for fiction and reality to become one. A new way of living for those wishing that all of reality could be fun! And for the young at heart, its also a way to re-live the dreams of childhood bliss! If you see it on Broadway, its one dream. Yet, if you see it in Cairo, its a whole new fantasy.
With the Maadi Community Theater, that fantasy becomes a new reality. Founded in 2015 by former Department of Rhetoric professor of AUC (American University In Cairo)-Dr. Eden Bowditch and Cairo American College math instructor, Brandon Zerr-Smith (director, writer)-the Maadi Community Theater creates a new realness, in a perfect fantasy! Future additions to the team would include Erik Dunham (assistant director and writer), Oliver Orion (set design and theater instructor at Cairo American College) Meredith Boring (costume designer), Carey Harris (makeup), and Ashley Gramolini (assistant director and co-writer).
Last year’s 2018 production (3rd season), Into the Wadi, (at Cairo American College), further continued the marriage of fiction and reality. Bringing the famous musical, Into the Woods, closer to the Maadi neighborhood district, and it’s own Expat vibe, one cannot say that the little child inside of every adult did not re-emerge his or her precious head.
Colorful costumes with many sparks of comedy, all crafted together into subtle hints of reality. In this production, and others, adults got to experience the world of childhood, once again. What made the production even more fantastical was the connection of a legendary tale to Cairo, Egypt! How it was drafted into particular spaces and places of Maadi is one performance of magical realism. Recognizing spaces of familiarity (as an audience member), while hearing their linguistic performance in the play was rejuvenating (and refreshing). Such exercises were also part of the art in bridging together modernity, with past tales of remembrance.k
Being part of the audience for that production of the Maadi Community Theater, was an experience into the power of theater. In addition, there are those intricacies of the characters, themselves; how those characters unfold, onstage, within the storyline. The comedy. The reality. The realness. . .of it all. The reality of fiction, and the fiction of reality. Are they really separate from each other? It’s a rather intriguing question, wouldn’t you agree? Evermore, it shows up right in the heart of Into the Wadi.
Sitting back to observe the dynamics between the children and adults actor/actresses, it was as if, for a moment, the Universe gave permission for the boundaries of age to be erased. Human capabilities, and the essence of storytelling brought differentiation of numbers together, under a common agreement of 0; that which imagines infinite possibilities.
One of the fabulous highlights of Into the Wadi, was how the overlapping of stories transcended into a vibrancy; where the costumes brought an infatuation with the rhythm, shaping, and design of the play, itself. The colors illuminated a new dynamic into an age-old story line. If one were to use our imagination, an abundant image of an “imaginary” world would come up-giving clues of the adventurous Souls, who have danced in the creative sector of blackness; who have explored her womb, and have found life’s treasures of abundance and wonder. Those very same jewels can be observed on the theatrical setting. And it was very evident that these gems had revealed themselves in the Maadi Community Theater’s Season 3 production. Certain characters even hinted, and highlighted, to the riches found when blackness (or darkness) is used as an imaginary (and creative) platform because of the inability to see in and through it.
The humanity of the production, Into the Wadi, is how the audience is reminded of the importance of those old, folkloric tales. The lessons learned from such tales and how hints of their teachings show up in the spacing of Cairo, Egypt’s, Maadi district.
After the show and meeting of the actors and actresses took place, the merging of fiction and reality happened again. Only this time it happened in the realm of audience and performers. Meeting the cast of the show meant that audience members were reminded of their personal journey in this narrative. It was a time for them to reflect upon their realities in the given content of things. Have we gotten so caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle of work, career, and the adult life, that we have forgotten what it means to dream? To allow our lives to become a fiction of their own? Living and exploring the reigns of our own fictional-reality! It gives us a meaning of real living. How infinite for one to see the world in this way! And that the conclusion for Into the Wadi, be the liberation for attendees (and audience members) to return to childhood fantasy; making the journey that much more rewarding, and into a space of. . .fun and delight!