Last night I went to see Les Miserables at the cinema here in Cairo. It was a 10pm showing. In the theater there was the 3 of us, and one young Egyptian guy on his own. The place was empty. I am not surprised people aren't going to the cinema much- just watching the news is dramatic enough these days here! However, my friends and I all have a love of musical theatre and just had to see what they would do to this one!
When I was a teenager the soundtrack would always move me, sometimes to tears. Being a teenager though meant that the poignant songs for me then were the romantic ones, 'I dreamed a dream' and 'on my own'. I was a soppy young thing, but want girl isnt at that age?
This time around I literally broke down through ' red and black', 'do you hear the people sing' and of course 'empty chairs at empty tables'. My face was completely washed clean of any make up I had been wearing.
It just seemed so ironic that we were sitting in an empty cinema watching people sing about revolution when outside in the streets of Cairo, people were dodging tear gas canisters.
I thought of the high aspirations and dreams of many of those who flooded Tahrir back in 2011 and ever since. I thought about how many of their attempts to be heard had been in vain. Of how many lives have been lost so far, and of how many more will be before Egypt sees peace. I saw so many comparisons between the young intellectuals of France way back then, and those who managed here to dethrone Mubarak only to be landed with a Morsi. Early on they say that one king was overthrown only to be replaced with a worse one. It struck a cord.
Then of course in 'red and black'... it felt like a set up. As if all this powerful emotional music wasnt enough... singing about the colours of the Egyptian flag just rendered me helpless. I imagined that if the cinema had been full of young Egyptian men and women they would have found it very hard to not go straight from the film to Tahrir! So much was so relevent. Even down to the big stand off between Valjean and Javert... both believing they are doing God's work....
I believe that if they put Les Miserables on the TV then the streets would be much busier, full of people demanding change in Egypt.
I guess the thing that surprised me most was how strong my reaction was. Ok I was tired, and I am a little under the weather still, so perhaps I am over emotional just now but to be sobbing my heart out, out of sympathy for the revoluntionaries of Egypt was not really what I expected from last night! These past two years in Cairo in particular have obviously affected me more than I had even imagined!
Teaching a private class this morning helped me refocus on dance, but it is hard to focus just on dance not to get completely caught up in the politics these days. That is something I never would have thought I would say!
What can i say- if you want to understand what many people in Egypt are feeling... have felt... are experiencing.... go see the film. Those of you in Egypt- go on, I dare you, tell me that it didn't tug at your heart strings too!!!
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