A Gun of Roses: Making Theatre Out of Poetry

Egyptian Poet Ahmed Haddad’s Short Play is a First in His 15-year Career
Actress and singer Dalia El-Ghenidy, and Egyptian Poet Ahmed Haddad during their latest performance: A Gun of Roses. (Photo by Ahmed Nassar)

Prominent Egyptian poet Ahmed Haddad performed his latest work entitled 'A Gun of Roses' this week. Haddad took a step away from his usual operetta style poetry evenings, choosing instead to embrace a short play format, a first in his 15-year career.

"This is a different performance. It's not a poetry musical, but more of a Reader's Theatre and a step towards creating a theatrical play. Here we only used three long poems along with some songs, "Ahmed Haddad explained.

The short one-act play revolves around a married couple about to get a divorce in a few hours. The performance breaks with societal stereotypes by presenting the couple as good friends who are sat on the couch reflecting upon the pivotal transition in their lives.

Accompanying Haddad on stage was prominent actress and singer Dalia El-Gendy. El-Gendy is one of the talented performers at the El-Warsha theatre troupe and one of the leading singers in Haddad's Retro Band. With her powerful, enchanting voice and Haddad's remarkable talent, the performance was a relaxed experience that sailed softly within the realm of love and marriage. The play was bursting with emotions displayed softly and sensitively. "I need someone to aim at me with a gun of roses," he told her as he subtly revealed the lack of passion and joy in their lives.

Wit, jealousy and common interests are all intricately discussed throughout their dialogue. There is no finger-pointing, though. They are both responsible for the decision and are contemplating it.

The dialogue is as eloquent as Haddad's poetry. As the conversation between the couple drifts along the long memory lane, songs are carefully interwoven to complement and subtly shift the dialogue.

‘Hot Karakibak, Ala Karakibi w Eba Habibi’ (Put all your belongings with mine and be my love), ‘Azizi Fulan’ (Dear Anonymous), ‘Sabah El-Kheir Ya Ezzat; (Good Morning Ezzat) and many more of Haddad's famous poems and songs were performed.

Born in 1984, this talented young poet published his first vernacular book of poetry at 15. ‘El-Ward Elli Beyetlaa’ (The flowers that bloom) was the first of six published poetry compilation books. His latest book ‘Mazag Seiadi’ (My Mood) was published in 2018.

Haddad's studies at the High Cinema Institute in Cairo had a considerable influence on his poetry performance's scriptwriting and direction.

It gave Haddad's poetry performances a theatrical sense, where poetry is recited in a modern way and interwoven with songs that he wrote, creating a 'musical' script that leans very much towards the operetta form.

Haddad's style has attracted many young people to his performance and reintroduced the concept of poetry evenings to the younger generations.

In addition to his performances in Egypt, Haddad has performed his poetry at the Egyptian Cultural Center in Paris 2010, and United Kingdom 2012-2013. In 2014 his Book of poetry Beshweish (Softly) was awarded best book of vernacular poetry by the General Egyptian Book Organization. In 2017, Ahmed Haddad created his band, named Retro, singing black and white movie songs and all-time classics in addition to his own lyrics.

Since 2004, Ahmed Haddad's name has been affiliated with popular independent Egyptian music bands such as Fayrouz Karawya's, Eskenderella, and Wust El-Balad, as well as with mainstream artists such Yehia Ghanam, Ali El-Haggar, Ahmed El-Haggar and many more.

The Egyptian poet recently worked with renowned musician Mounir El-Weseimy on the opera ‘Tarh Al Bahr’ (What the sea brought), the first Egyptian opera to be played at the National Opera House of the Sultanate of Oman.

Haddad also wrote and directed several independent movies, in which his poetry and lyrics are vivid and outstanding.

Haddad's new book of poetry ‘Al tawqiet Al Mahaly lemadinet Al-Bahga’ (The local time for the city of joy) will be published in the summer.