‘Woman at point zero’ – Bushra El-Turk

Friday 15 September 2023
Palau de les Arts - Teatre Martín i Soler
20 euros
Artistic cast

Creative team
Scene director: Laila Soliman
Music director: Kanako Abe
Scenography and video design: Bissane Al Charif & Julia König
Costume design: Eli Verkeyn
Lighting: Loes Schakenbosc

Fatma: Dima Orsho
Sama: Carla Nahadi Babelegoto
Ensemble Zar

A production of the LOD muziektheater, All Aria’s festival (deSingel Antwerpen, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, Concertgebouw Brugge & Transparant) in Belgium, the Royal Opera House in London, the Shubbak Festival in London, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, the Snape Maltings of the United Kingdom and the Grand Théâtre of Luxemburg.


While shooting a film about violence against women,
the director Sama meets Fatma, a prostitute sentenced to death for murdering a man. At first, Fatma refuses to talk; she needs to find out the filmmaker’s motives before she finally agrees. Their conversation takes place on the eve of her execution and is punctuated with the accounts of other women arrested for similar reasons. Her story begins in a rural town, where her father, a violent and very religious man, farms the land while her mother does the same household chores over and over again, suffering in silence. Fatma recalls and talks about the death of her starving, sick siblings, her loathing of housework, her first sexual experiences and even her brutal genital mutilation. Her uncle in Cairo teaches her the rudiments of reading and, after she becomes orphaned, he takes her to live with him, but he sexually abuses her at night. He enrols her in primary school and, once he is married, sends her to a boarding school. Fatma falls in love with one of her teachers, but remains silent about it: this feeling for a woman is completely unknown to her and she still cannot explain it, exactly the same as Sama experienced with a female musician. As a schoolgirl, Fatma takes refuge in books and thus discovers the omnipotence of man as a social reality, which raises her feminist awareness. She graduates at eighteen and wishes to continue her studies. However, when she returns to her uncle’s house, she is forced to marry a sixty-year-old man who mistreats her. As divorce is impossible (unlike her, Sama was able to divorce her manipulative husband), she flees her new home, but is locked up by a man who abuses her. The young woman manages to escape and is approached by a prostitute who gets her clients in exchange for the money they give her.

When Fatma realises the trap she has fallen into, she
becomes a freelance sex worker. She gets rich quick
and feels free for the first time in her life. She then begins to publicly defend women’s freedom and falls in love with a man fighting for the same cause. Nevertheless, she discovers that he is lying to her, taking advantage of her favours even though he is going to marry the daughter of a high-ranking official. During the discussion, Sama talks about her similar experience of male betrayal and tells of the numerous waves of sexual abuse that she and her friends suffered during the Tahrir Square protests, which supposedly showed signs of reform. Having become a famous prostitute, Fatma is harassed by a pimp against whom she is unable to defend herself. So, when he breaks into her house one day, she kills him.

Fatma is imprisoned for the crime, but explains that
she feels freer in jail than outside it and does not want to fight to get her sentence reduced. When Sama begs her to appeal, she refuses and urges the artist to make something out of her story, something beautiful…
Raphaëlle Blin

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