Play review: We Live in Cairo

By Kashif-ul-Huda for

We Live in Cairo, a production at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts beautifully captures the Egyptian revolution of 2011. The confusion, idealism, and optimisim during the start of revolution to struggle, comradery, and jubilation of success, and then disagreements, sacrifice, and despair as post- revolutionary reality turns out to be a negative image of the dream.

Writers Daniel Lazour and Patrick Lazour have done an excellent job in capturing the nuances of the Tahrir Uprising through this musical.

Support TwoCircles

No stereotypical representation of Egypt or Egyptian. No whitewashing of complexities of this revolution.

The cast directed by Taibi Magar brings a high energy performance that spills over to the audience and the audience joins in clapping when the revolution succeeds and sinks in their seats deeper during the second act.

The creative team has done a wonderful job of capturing the emotion and confusion as the revolution began to unravel and hijacked. People were so busy fighting Mubarak regime that there was no consensus developed on what the future Egypt will look like and how do we get there.

Play makes reference but does not credit the Muslim Brotherhood for making the revolution a success. In the Mubarak regime, they were the only organization in Egypt, in spite of state repression against them, that had a structure and members in place. They mobilized people for the Jan25 movement and provided logistics when million descended on Tahrir Square.

Ideas translated into action- is what led to Mubarak to walk away, securing his future and ensuring that the state structure survived.

 The army took over and announced the election. Confusion of the young men and women in not being able to find a suitable candidate for the Presidential election. With Brotherhood only strong political presence it was clear that their support was crucial for a candidate to win. Brotherhood helped Morsi win the election. Morsi, instead of going slow  went in direct conflict with the Army and result is that we had a coup and General Sisi has been the President of Egypt since 2014. What change did the revolution bring?

The play provides us a place to contemplate how ideas can turn into movements & revolution but without an organization and debate amingst people on what the future looks like, state institutions and vested interest are all too eager to exploit the differences amongst people and destroy any gains made during the revolution.

This play reinforces the importance of art and documenting people’s history.


Karim: Sharif Afifi
Hany: Abubakr Ali
Amir: Jakeim Hart
Fadwa: Dana Saleh Omar
Hassan: Gil Perez-Abraham
Layla: Parisa Shahmir

More details about the play here: