It’s rare to see a clown show in Cairo, never mind in one of Cairo’s oldest streets, Al-Moez, and in front of the historic Qalawun Mosque.
But that’s what happened on Friday: Al-Moez was taken by storm with Super Duda (Super Worm), an act by Egyptian theater troupe Outa Hamra (Red Tomato).
The show was part of a larger event presenting folk performances and guided tours of historical sites. Packed with viewers, Moez St. Folkloric Carnival (Two) was run by Unusual Egypt, an events management company that runs festivals, walking tours, workshops and carnivals at historic sites, tourist destinations and in the countryside.
Super Duda, unlike Outa Hamra’s previous clown shows, did not address any socio-political issues. It is rather a collection of skits and bits the troupe has used over the years that have made their audiences happy and engaged.
Outa Hamra’s members have shifted and changed since they initially got together in 2011 after a series of workshops with Clowns Without Borders in 2009 and 2010. They have several clown performances under their belt, which tend to involve socio-political concerns and a lot of improvisation.
The troupe rarely performs in straight-up cultural venues. You usually find them on streets, in youth centers, refugee centers, universities, public libraries and even at children’s correctional facilities.
But Outa Hamra isn’t only clowning — they also perform as a theater troupe. One of their performances, Going to the Neighbor’s House, uses music, comedy and storytelling to portray the lives and culture of refugees in Egypt.
The troupe also participates in playback theater workshops. Through this interactive and improvisational approach, which is used for community building, trauma response and cultural activism, audience members share their stories on stage, and the actors then act them out. Music is employed, and a director is responsible for making the audience feel open and comfortable.
Photos: Amir Makar
Text: Rowan El Shimi