This week I went to the theatre to see a show in which Fifi Abdou was the star.
It was a 4 hour long production called 'Rawaiya' and was held in the 'musr el a'yn' in the area of Manial. The theatre is a lovely place- where all the seats are on the bank of the Nile and the stage is actually floating on the Nile...... so insect repelant is a must!
The story of the play was as follows- dancer Rawaiya (fifi) owns theatre/circus where they pay an old man protection money so nothing happens to it. They get fed up of this and throw him out and refuse to pay- so he arranges for the places to be burnt down. Fifi is distraught and a rich friend (who is in love with her) offers to help her raise the money to rebuild by taking her on a dancing tour around the world. She becomes famous- returns to cairo and rebuilds the theatre and has the old man who burned it down arrested.
The acting is interesting- I have never seen an Egyptian play before and I would say the word pantomine describes it better than a play. when the 'star' actors come onto stage the audience applaud and the acting stops so they can take a bow, then they carry on. If something happens in audience- they comment on it and include it in the show... eg when I was there a cat ran across the stage so they made all kinds of jokes about that. (yes- a cat really did run accross the stage- zig zag style- very amusing!)
anyway- for me there were 2 parts in the whole thing that I liked. one was a shouting swearing scene between fifi and the henchman of the old man. It was so funny- because it is a family show- and there were lots of kids in the audience- they couldn't actually swear- but what they did was overact miming swearing - so if you could lip read you would know exactly what they were saying............ it was as though they were dubbing themselves- very amusing!
the second thing I liked was of course the dance scene where you got to see Fifi doing her thing with a full, large, orchestra. She danced a few different styles but of course the one she was best at- and where she looked most comfortable was when she got on the galabeya and shimmyed her was through song after song, baladi style. I counted about 4 different moves in all- but considering she is not physiclaly as she used to be- she still had the presence and power of charater to have me open jawed at those! I was less than arms width away from her when she came froward to take her bow and she winked at me... all a bit surreal really. To hold the audience with dance the way she still can is my ambition for when i get to her age!