When Jacques Siron saw one of our multi-layered “Nights of El Warsha”, and expressed his appreciation, he told me that he had made a film: “One Thousand and One Cairo”. I enthusiastically said I would love to see it, but he was very reticent. It was his “Rolex”-regulated time, I later realized, reacting to what he assumed would be my “Insha’Allah” time! He had had bad experiences of time-keeping in Cairo! When I arrived on time and watched the film, I felt a strong family resemblance between his kaleidoscopic treatment of this beloved and hated City and our own theatrical puzzle: “Cairo Calling” (2004). We decided to meet again. We met again to discuss further opportunities for exchange. He suggested we collaborate on a joint performance rather than a film, and I agreed to this.
Last February, we worked together for two weeks. A six-day trip was made to Luxor with a great deal of reading and discussion. The second part of the trip took place in Cairo, and was shared between discussions and experimentation with members of El Warsha. The theme that hovered over our heads for a week in February as we talked together in Gourna, on the West Bank of Luxor, was inter-cultural misunderstanding and the predominance of prejudice. But Music, which is where Jacques comes from, is also where Kipling’s “twain” could finally meet. l was keen to add to El Warsha’s many artistic sources that of the Logic of music, its abstraction and its polyphony. Jacques would be our mentor on this exploration.
Jacques’ second visit started by giving him time to ‘land in Cairo’ and to exchange with me regarding our up-coming workshop and demos. Starting October 29, Jacques worked with our artists for ten days at El Warsha’s premises and we gave three demos on 8 and 9 November.
We are looking forward to continue exploring the infinitely evocative capacity of music with Jacques next March 2017. Jacques, like us, is one of Shahrazad’s disciples who understand that communication is the supreme value, so necessary for survival, and that there is no better way to communicate than to keep on exchanging our stories in the face of oppression and death.
Hassan El Geretly (30 November 2016)