Life of Semola

It happened a few months ago.

An average normal summer evening at home in Hurghada.

It all started as a fun entertaining activity and a way to get all our (yet to be expressed and appreciated) storytelling talent out.

‘Let’s write a story about dolphins.’

‘Yeah! Let’s make it a play!’

Overall aim was to convey some scientific and conservation messages to the kids in the south, but how? What format? A play, an interactive play, seemed the most adequate.

And so Semola and his story were born.

Semola is a spinner dolphin calf, he leaves in Samadai and learn life the hard way: when the group resting in the lagoon is disturbed by the visit of the vroooms (speedboats) and the 4-eyed fish (humans), all of a sudden, in the chaotic confusion of the interaction, he finds himself alone, left behind. He then ventures in the dangerous, dark, unexplored open sea looking for his pod and, by meeting turtles, sea birds, morays and other marine animals, he discovers facts about pollution, coastal development, fisheries…and himself too.

Put down the script and pictured the way the play could look like, I sent the draft around for comments.

To make a long story short, the most dedicated people I know – Ali and Suzanna from Roaya and the newborn Society of Environmental Awareness Supporters (SEAS), NGOs based in El Quseir – took the script, translated it into Arabic and got the kids from the Roaya summer club to work on it.

We premiered a few days ago in El Quseir with a beautiful performance that was just the perfect conclusion of an intense week of costume making, rehearsals, and art work.

Those kids were amazing. They painted, assembled and memorised everything. Eager, curious, smiling. A bunch of enthusiastic 9-12 years old under the lead of inspired and passionate people.

I was blessed to find myself there with Catherine and Anjelika from Bokra Sawa ( you guys keep up the good work!), a fine talented artist such as Julien Solé, Stephane Pachot (watch his Cafe’IN, terrific project!) and Salma Khattab, our travelling teacher.

The result was a fresh, colourful, shiny experience.

11 prep panel draft 11 prep panels 11 rehearsal in ngo 12 prep costumes 13 prep location 14 meeting 15 prep venue 16 rehearsal at venue 17 prep costume moray 18 rehearsal 30 scene2 30 scene3 30 scene4 30 scene5 30 scene6 40 the end

I am immensely grateful to Ali (you are the best!), Suzanna, Amira, Rana, Mohamed and all the volunteers at Roaya; thanks also to all those who have supported and helped in El Quseir.

Anji, Julien and Nadia, thank you for sharing your energies, love, art and creativity.

Once more, this was supported by a grant from the Rufford Small Grant Foundation, main sponsor of our research and a series of educational side projects.

In cinemas in 2017 😉

M.

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