Nada Sabet is an Egyptian theatre director. She co-founded Noon Creative Enterprise in 2010-2011. Noon is one of very few applied theatre companies in Egypt. Through its educational performances and participatory workshops it facilitates delicate conversations at the community-level on challenging topics such as female circumcision and mental health, but also about the importance of playfulness in daily life. In this video, Nada introduces Noon’s activities and a comedy show about female genital mutilation that they have been touring with for the past few years. This is an ICAF news item of about 30 minutes, so please take the time to view it at your leisure.
We met Nada through DutchCulture, an organisation closely linked to the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. It facilitates international cultural exchanges and also operates a visitors programme for foreign artists. We at ICAF have been able to establish quite a few fascinating contacts thanks to DutchCulture. Nada visited us in Rotterdam in the fall of 2018 and last June she and Eugene met again in Utrecht. These encounters convinced us to invite her to be part of ICAF-8.
In order to maintain its independence and to avoid getting stuck in unpredictable and politically sensitive donor cycles, Noon decided to register as a limited liability company from the very start. This allows it to create its own work rather than only doing things for which subsidies are available. Noon’s more extended projects are commissioned by international NGOs or national networks. These commissions provide the basis for their income. In developing them Noon also frequently partners up with local grassroots organisations and cultural spaces, to present shows or to deliver workshops.
Noon literally moves up and down Egypt – and sometimes also elsewhere in the Middle East. As an organisation it is structured very flexibly so that it can have different projects going on simultaneously. Each initiative has its own creative team that is employed free lance for the duration of a project. Says Nada: “obviously we work with the same actors and trainers over and over again, but they are not full-time employees. The core team members of Noon are on yearly contracts. This allows us to shrink and grow to ensure the sustainability of the company. At the moment, during the Corona virus it is impossible for us to work, which is unfortunate for our projects and our free lancers.”
Noon works in many different aesthetic forms, including puppetry, outdoor shows in the round, interactive theatre, youth-led performance projects, theatre with children, in mental health institutions, and it has coached inclusive theatre groups with various levels of abilities that have been formed after their workshops.