Toynbee Studios, London
Written in response to sexual violence in Tahrir Square, this mobile adaptation of Sara Shaarawi’s polemic becomes confusing
Niqabi Ninja is a revenge fantasy originally written by Sara Shaarawi in response to an instance of sexual violence in 2013 during demonstrations at Tahrir Square. Staged as part of the Shubbak festival, it makes clear that endemic sexual assault and rape culture relates to cities beyond Cairo, issues that have gained new resonance in the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder in London.
Directed by Catrin Evans, it has been adapted from a stage play into an outdoors event that mixes an audio story with a walk around east London alongside Gehan Mounir’s graphic art illustrations, pasted on walls, buildings and hoardings. Rebecca Banatvala, as Hana, describes both the everyday sexual catcalling around her in Cairo, which begins barely after she hits puberty, to a serious incident of sexual assault. In between, she observes men’s relentless gawping and groping in crowds (“hands everywhere”) and harassment that is both casual and calculated. Her experience builds to a bloodthirsty desire for revenge and the creation of Niqabi Ninja (Juliana Yazbeck), a graphic novel-style superhero-cum-avenging angel; the ancient Egyptian tale of Isis and her murdered husband, Osiris, is also woven in with the contemporary story.Continue reading...