Woman at Point Zero is blending the raw power of Nawal El Saadawi’s feminist narrative with the evocative musical fusion of Arabic and Western traditions by Bushra El-Turk. This multimedia opera, brought to life by director Laila Soliman, writer Stacy Hardy, and scenographer Bissane Al Charif, tells a gripping tale of Fatma, a resilient feminist and activist, and Sama, a documentary filmmaker seeking to unravel her story. Through their interactions, the opera interrogates themes of womanhood, liberation, and the paradoxical freedoms found within the confines of oppression.
The jury is particularly struck by the work’s ability to transcend cultural barriers, uniting a diverse range of musicians under the baton of conductor Kanako Abe to tell a universal story of abuse and emancipation. This piece is not only a celebration of cross-cultural collaboration but also a resonant social commentary, delivering a powerful message on the global stage about the unyielding spirit of women in the face of systemic violence.
In awarding Woman at Point Zero as a winner, the jury acknowledges its critical importance in shedding light on the injustices faced by women and the potential of music theatre to inspire change. The project’s integration of live performance with multimedia elements creates an experience that is both innovative in form and transformative in its potential to provoke dialogue and empathy. It is an artistic endeavor that honors the legacy of Nawal El Saadawi and amplifies the voices of the marginalized, making it an essential addition to the contemporary canon of music theatre.
About Women at Point Zero
Woman at Point Zero is an opera inspired by the novel by Egyptian writer and feminist Nawal El Saadawi. The opera tells the story of two women: Fatma, who is a self-made feminist and activist imprisoned for manslaughter and Sama, a young ambitious documentary filmmaker who wants to tell Fatma’s story. Fatma describes to Sama how she searches for freedom from the vicious cycle of violence that controls her life. As their relationship unfolds over the course of one day, they share their memories, experiences, and secrets – moving from distrust to curiosity and solidarity and finally friendship. What does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be liberated? Is it possible to be more free in prison than outside? From this universal story of abuse and emancipation, composer Bushra El-Turk, director Laila Soliman, writer Stacy Hardy and scenographer and film designer Bissane Al Charif create a multimedia opera. Conducted by Kanako Abe, the music blends Western and Eastern traditions, performed on a unique mix of ancient folk instruments by musicians from all over the world.
- Composer: Bushra El-Turk
- Stage direction: Laila Soliman
- Libretto: Stacy Hardy
- Scenography: Bissane Al Charif
- Video design: Bissane Al Charif & Julia König
- Director’s assistant: Barbara T’Jonck & Nadia Amin
- Composer’s assistant: Furkan Keçeli
- Documentary audio fragments: Aida Elkashef
- Musical direction: Kanako Abe
- Assistant musical director: Ivan Cheng
- Singers: Dima Orsho & Carla Nahadi Babelegoto
- Ensemble ZAR: Hyelim Kim – taegum, Milos Milivojevic – accordéon, Raphaela Danksagmuller – recorders, crumhorn, fujara, duduk & kaval, Chatori Shimizu – sho, Faraz Eshghi Sahraei – kamancha & Hanna Kölbel – cello
- Repetitor & live samples: Samir Bendimered
- Costumes: Eli Verkeyn
- Stage manager: Patrick Vanderhaeghen
- Light design: Loes Schakenbos
- Video: Johannes Ringoot & Brecht Debackere
- Light: Jamy Hollebeke
- Sound: Carlo Thompson & Guillaume Desmet
- Production manager: Liesbet Termont
- Production: LOD muziektheater
- Coproduction: All Aria’s festival, Royal Opera House London, Shubbak Festival London, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Britten Pears Arts & Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg)
- Thanks to: Kathleen Venneman & Victor Hidalgo
- With the support of enoa (European Network of Opera Academies), PRS Foundation, FEDORA, AFAC (The Arab Fund for Art and Culture), the British Council & the TAX Shelter Measure by the Belgian federal government
- Tax shelter partner: Flanders TAX Shelter
July 10 2022, Festival Aix-en-Provence, France
© Kurt Van der Elst