The women of the Arab Spring

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By Aalia Khan

From the Mama Quilla Production Company comes a new theatre play called The Signing Stones. The Singing Stones fearlessly explores the different stories of women from the Arab revolutions. It follows the epic journey of Sarah, her daughter and granddaughter through changing times, places and ideas, and it asks the question, ‘Was the Arab Spring the greatest missed opportunity for humanity of the 21st century?’

Singing-Stones-e-flyerWhen some would argue that theatre has been dulled down this production provokes and asks difficult questions.

The idea for the plays arose when Director/Writer Kay Adshead did a project called Theatre Of Protest which explored the state of the phenomena of global protest all around the world. She had then developed a piece on young people about student protests and at the same time the Arab spring began. Kay says “Interesting things were appearing in blogs for very short periods of time so I decided to also include the women spring in that piece.”

Kay Adshead

Kay Adshead

The production is comprised of three plays and is predominately a female cast who are diverse in ethnicity.

Najma Akhtar, an internationally renowned vocalist and songwriter has composed the music for this production and will be performing live. She says “The plays are about the hardships, brutalities and cruelties of what happened, it was mentioned and then forgotten about. The women who fought for their freedom, rights and equalities, its powerful and strong, some people will like it and some may not.”

Najma Akhtar

Najma Akhtar

Najma’s role is the voice of a woman who has undergone a lot of brutality as her husband has been taken away, her quest is to find her husband, and she sings from the heart and soul “My voice is to express the sorrow and sadness. It is very hard to get it into ones head that these things did happen and are still happening. It’s a complex, detailed piece which travels across 5 countries; Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and England” she says.

Kay says it is vital for such material to be created as “The stories have to be told.” She adds “There’s been a big attempt to write women out of the Arab spring. They were briefly celebrated, then denied and now derided. We are showing women were there and very important at the inception of it.”

The key messages being portrayed in the plays are that “You achieve very little with violence, so you should think very carefully as violence is the last resort” explains Kay. Additionally “Don’t forget the voice of the woman, struggle and brutality that happened. Everything was forgotten but it’s still happening just not in the public eye. We have to strive to do right what’s wrong. Women must bring

The play runs from Wed 4th Feb until Saturday 28th February at the Arcola Theatre, London.

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