Masar Egbary band

Hamdy Reda

The background

This tale begins in the 1970s, when a number of great Egyptian poets wrote about their dreams for change and social justice – a revolution for Egypt – during a time of political unrest, corruption and high unemployment. 

Although they didn’t live to see their dreams come true, the Egyptian Revolution took place on 25 January 2011 when a popular uprising overthrew the regime – and the poets’ stories remained.  

 Sharing a powerful story

In May 2011, the band Massar Egbari collaborated with The Alternative Theatre Group to turn the poets’ stories into a performance they titled Lines from Egypt’s Diaries.  

Featuring a fusion of music, song, poetry and acting, the work was performed by the group in front of the Alexandrian public the same month with resounding success. 

Word spread quickly and Lines from Egypt’s Diaries was performed again in December 2011 at the Reveil: An Arab Theatre Gathering Festival. 

The following January, the group was selected by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture to represent Egypt in Tunisia to celebrate the Tunisian Revolution. 

Developing the story

The group was funded through the British Council’s grant for artists scheme to develop their story, adding poems and video to turn a simple show into a powerful and reflective performance. 

The video was based on the works of director Shady Abdelsalam and presented the story of Egyptian peasants complaining to the Pharaoh. The addition of the new component complemented the performance well. 

The act was renamed Lines from Egypt’s Diaries: Explode or Die and was performed for the first time in March 2012 at the Falaki Theatre of the American University in Cairo. 

So that this important story could be shared with the rest of the world, the text was translated into English, and as a result the group were able to perform at the Mayfesto Festival in Scotland in May 2012. 

Watch the performance on YouTube

The supporters

Success stories like these are made possible by the valuable contribution made by supporters and funders. 

Massar Egbari and The Alternative Theatre Group in Egypt were able to share their story with the rest of the world thanks to: 

  • Egyptian Ministry of Culture
  • British Council Egypt
  • Falaki Theatre of the American University in Cairo
  • Studio Emad Eddin
  • Swedish International Development Agency
  • Tron Theatre
  • National Theatre of Scotland.