interviews

Ahmed El AttarAhmed El Attar

"This is my advice"

Ahmed El Attar is an independent theater director, translator and Playwright who lives in Paris and works in the Middle East. Founder and artistic director of the Temple Independent Theater Company in Egypt. Has a BA in theater from the American University in Cairo and an MA in Arts and Cultural Management from Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle. "Mother I want to be a Millionaire" is his tenth production. His previous two performances are "Life is Beautiful or Waiting for My Uncle From America" and "On the Road to Nowhere, A Cairene Journey for Tourists and Lovers", which he also wrote and produced, have been performed in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Portugal, Germany and Sweden. El Attar is also a cultural operator, conceiving, organising and producing workshops tutored by European artists and targeting young independent artists in the Middle East working in various artistic disciplines, such as theater, lighting, comic strip art and electronic music. He is a member of the advisory board of Arteast in New York and President of the Femec, Forum Euro-Mediteraneen des Cultures in Paris.
El Attar will open the first independent rehearsal space for the performing and visual arts in Cairo in December 2004, a project he has been working on for the last few years.

A dark bar that looks like a big cellar. Small candle, glowing on every table, the only sources of illumination. At the back end, almost in the black, one hardly distinguishes the bar. In front of the bar, in second plan, three tables. The first is occupied by two men, the second by a woman and two men and the third is empty.

In foreground, a table with a man sitting in profile. Late thirties, quiet, brown, of European type, dressed in jeans and summer shirt, rather relaxed. Emerges from the dark, a man, beginning of the thirties mat skin, blue linen jacket, Calvin Klein jeans and a white T-shirt. Two beers in the hand, he sits down and gives a beer to the man sitting in profile while telling to him:

- I can’t believe that she left for the East?

- What can it do to you that she leaves for the East, for the West, or for Jupiter? Are you going to stop mingling on her business?

(Silence, each takes a mouthful of beer)

- Are you still waiting for her to fall in love with you?

(He doesn't answer and continuous to drink)

- When are you going to understand that here it is not as in your city?

No matter the size of your city or the prestigious names that it carries, Paris of the Orient, the Princess of the Mediterranean, no matter the number of stories engraved on the walls of its passages thousand years old. It will never look like our cities. Your cities, your villages, where people know themselves, speak, or meet by chance in streets, where hundred thousand people spend their days under a stuffy heat, have nothing to do with our cities. Those strong emotions of joy or pain, expressed without forethought nor conscience of your background, at no matter what hour of the day or the night, don't have their places here.

When are going to learn, that contrarily to past times, it is not the colour of your skin, nor the colour of your hair that entails prejudice anymore. Today, your very existence entails prejudice.

Stop speaking of Europe and the direction that she chose to take. Please, forget your theories about the origin of the western contemporary culture and the cultural ties woven through centuries between the North and the South of the Mediterranean. No one will believe you. How do you want anyone to accept as true that your unbelieving ancestors, son of Mohamed the Bedouin of the desert, rediscovered and translated the Greek inheritance, the very origin of the pride of Europe, yet forbidden of access during centuries within the continent that carries the name of the charming young woman that Zeus seduced in white Taurus of golden horns.

That the work of your ancestors in the different domains of knowledge was the fountain upon which their European colleagues draw to build the basis of present knowledge, not only regrouping the knowledge of the Greek but also the one of the Indians and Chinese yet far from us. And that all it has been naturally transmitted in this Mediterranean basin who looks like the tub where your son plays every evening at bath time with these toys in plastic manufactured in China.

No one will believe you.

It is sufficient to look at you, anxious and uncertain, aggressive and embittered, proud and dangerous, to understand that it is not true. It is sufficient to go in your city, a living definition of chaos and misery, to understand that it is not true. It is sufficient to read the economic and social statistics and the analyses of the political regimes in place since the eternity, and that change only by Divine or American intervention, to understand that the stories that you tell are only recorded in your head. And your head is heavy of carrying thousands of stories, thousands of apologies, thousands of explanations... of carrying your existence.

So, that’s it, Europe made her choice and her choice has not included you. And in spite of your instinctive intelligence, your cultural inheritance and your intellectual miscegenation, you didn't see it coming. Did you believe that one fine day you where going to be precious to the eyes of beautiful Europe? She who took advantage of you, made you drag yourself behind her, mistreated you so often. A girl who only thinks about her pleasure. Did you really think she was going to love you one day?

You have never been part of her choice and you will never be. For her you are only an instrument to achieve her dreams and her desires, that are sometimes very expensive. And if one evening she feels lonely, without any available lover, she might call you. And you will feel, for some seconds, as if it were you she had chosen. But some minutes later, the emptiness to the other tip of thread will recall you that you were mistaken once again. She will leave and she will let you all alone with your stories, waiting for her next phone call, that might never arrive…

This is my advice, stop loving her. She is not for you this Europe.