“Al-Jathoom” within the competition of the National Festival of Professional Theater – Al-Hiwar Algeria

The Algerian National Theater presented, on Thursday evening in Algiers, its play “Al-Jathoom” within the competition of the National Festival of Professional Theatre. It is a work that deals with women’s relationship with the social environment.
“Al-Jathoom” was shown, directed by Abdel-Qader Azouz and written by Wafaa Braham Shawish. It tells, for about an hour and a half, the story of a woman trying to bring about change in her society, but she encounters those who adhere to customs and traditions and categorically reject anyone who wants to destabilize what they see as sacred.
The text deals with the issue of injustice and the collective power exercised over women in general, especially after the daughter loses the protection of the father, who we will learn later that he was killed.
The task of embodying the roles was entrusted to Wahiba Baali (in the role of the mother), Iman Belalem (in the role of the daughter), Nisreen bin Muhammad Mohiuddin (in the role of the old woman), Ahmed Marzouki (in the role of Amghar), Suleiman Horo (in the role of Idir Ibn Amghar ).
The desert environment was manifested in the theatrical scene through the scenography of Abdelkader Azouz, who worked on the semi-empty space, which was gradually filled with theatrical action performed by the actors through their movement on the stage according to a linear rhythm with specific goals.
The director also used contextual elements related to the desert environment, which were manifested through colors, costumes, and all sensory references that help the recipient move to a different environment and put him in the atmosphere of the story.
The curtain was lifted on the first scene in the play, and it was in the form of a procession followed by steady steps, a woman carrying a thick stick on her head similar to a mortar hand, trying not to drop it, so she walked with a balanced gait, indicating the burden placed on the shoulders of the woman.
The beginning of the speech in the play was a rhetorical introduction in classical Arabic delivered by the actress Baali, summarizing the struggle of good and evil and the contradictions of the human soul. It was soon followed by a rather long choreography set to the rhythm of African drums and swinging lamps.
As for the dialogue between the mother and the daughter, it did not start until in the third panel, and in colloquial language, the discussion opened between a mother who feels afraid of people’s words and wants to persuade her daughter to marry “Amghar the Great”, whose role influences the course of events, as it pushes the girl to challenge the tribe and refuse to submit to the logic of the group and take control her command.
The scenes follow in paintings resembling ancient tales that evoke the desert imagination with its historical flavor, such as the story of “Aisha Qandisha,” the legendary character who descended to the waterwheel to fetch water in defiance of the group, so the spring dried up, people thirsted, and women’s tears became salty.
The work is also not devoid of the songs of the desert region, which women repeat against an African musical background.
It was evident in this work that the direct and explicit presentation of the issue of women, through the problem of marriage and family relations, and also through the relationship of the individual to the environment in which he lives and which suffers from the problem of water shortage.
As for the “jathoom” on which the chapters of the play are based, it is ultimately that fear of the other or fear of tomorrow and facing the difficulties of the future.
Thirteen competing shows have been programmed in the Algerian National Theater and about thirty other shows are programmed in the halls of Ibn Khaldoun, the Municipal Theater of Central Algeria and Hajj Omar in the Algerian National Theater until January 1, 2023 within the framework of the 15th edition of the National Festival of Professional Theater.

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