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The power of the Arts in social change

As the stage lights went out and the theatre became quiet, Angie's heart beat quickly and a shiver of excitement ran through her body. She had been preparing for this day for so long, working day and night with her team to make sure that this play would turn into a big success. It was a very special play for her, since it was the first to be written, directed and produced by her!

Angie Soliman is a 30 year old bright Egyptian woman. She is a smart business woman, co- running a family business in Cairo. When I first met Angie, I found her to be a strong, ambitious and practical woman; but never did I know her passion for arts and theatre until recently.

Angie’s love for the arts started at a very young age when she first encountered the music videos of some of the famous pop singers at that time “Michael Jackson was an inspiration to me. His shows were the best you could get, they were fascinating! All the colors, the music and the dancing provoked me to explore the artist within and to express myself in writing, dancing and singing.” Angie was 20 year old when she decided to join the theatre service in her church. She started by acting in small roles, but soon she developed a special interest in directing. As a business manager, she found a lot of similarities between running a business and directing a play: both entailed managing a mixture of ingredients to produce the desired outcome. Angie’s hidden talent was soon discovered by Dr.Mina, the theatre director, who asked her to join him as an assistant director in 2003. Since then, Angie not only started her journey of discovering the world of theatre directing, but she went deeper onto a path of self-discovery, where she got in touch with hidden dimensions within herself that she had never experienced before. “I discovered myself on a deeper level,” Angie recalls “I’ve also learnt a lot about producing something out of nothing and doing everything from scratch.”

The theatre for Angie was much more than finding solace in acting and directing; it also became a tool for her to help out the youth in her community, especially those who joined the theatre service. “Arts have always been a powerful tool in trust building and relationship development,” Angie notes. “In our theatre team, we try to break through to the youth, to know their needs, and hence to serve them better; theatre helps us do that because they love it and they become themselves totally. We jump on the opportunity and be their friends, and the more plays we act out together the deeper our relationship becomes.” She also observed how theatre helped youth to gain a lot of skills they wouldn’t have gained elsewhere; Skills like communication, teamwork, budgeting and time management are only a handful of what youth gain through their experience in the theatre.

Sending a message through the arts is always a thousand times more effective than just saying it. Youth have realized that through their work in the theatre team, they became more empowered by making a difference in their communities through the messages on which the plays are based. All of the plays they were part of have been crafted around a message and a meaning. “The first play I directed discussed the gap between generations and how this gap can be closed by empathy and putting oneself in other shoes.” Angie notes. “Another play that I assisted in directing in 2005 talked about power, and examples from the history about people who abused the power they had. “

Angie’s work in business has often intertwined with her work in theatre, inspiring her to try different things and to seek hidden angles. As a business entrepreneur, Angie has always understood the importance of taking initiatives and being creative. She noticed during her work in theatre that the Egyptian youth are very creative, but often lacked the confidence or the opportunity to make the best use of this creativity. Angie highlighted during the interview how theatre has a big impact on the youth’ self-confidence: “I always enjoy the confidence in the youth voices and postures after the performance .As they accumulate experience, they become more confident in creating and experimenting.”

In 2011, Angie decided to take her passion for the arts a step further to pursue studies in arts production. This has not been an easy decision since it entailed taking some time off from managing the family business and resulted in resistance from some of the family members. However, her strong passion and her vision made her take this bold step that was a long awaited dream. After finishing her studies, Angie wants to use the arts as a tool for learning and self-discovery “One of the ideas I want to work on is bringing big musicals and theatre performances to the rural children and youth in Egypt. As much as the colors, the music and the dancing provoked me to explore the artist within and encouraged me to express myself in writing, dancing and singing, giving the Egyptian children and youth such an exposure at an early age will make them rediscover themselves, push their boundaries and learn more about the surrounding world.”

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Comments

usha kc's picture

Angie's Story of her journey

Angie's Story of her journey from business woman to theatre artist and her experienced thoughts is really inspiring .

thank Mirette you for sharing .

MaDube's picture

Angie is very right. Theatre

Angie is very right. Theatre and music work to bring together youths for a good common cause better than anything else. I remember in October a friend working with an organisation advocating the abolition of the death penalty wanted to host a discussion on the abolition of the death penalty. If she had just said she wanted to have this discussion, I probably would not have gone. What attracted me was that the event was taking place near Coptic Cairo, there was going to be a screening of the movie "The life of David Gale" and a jazz band was going to perform afterward. So I did go and listened to the discussions on the abolition of the death penalty in Egypt but I watched an interesting movie and danced to some good music afterward. Angie got it right, this is the way to go with youths in order to positively influence them.

malba66's picture

Indeed the arts often up a

Indeed the arts often up a world of possibilities. Art is often one of our most important tools in the struggle for social change.

Peace,
Mari

Bonnie Samuel's picture

social change recorded through art

Great article. Through the ages, the story of people and the earth has been depicted and chronicled through various forms of art. The artist rendering of an issue has very often been the impetus for movements that bring change.

Leslie Stoupas's picture

Trusting our Youth!

One of the aspects I love about this story is that Angie trusts the inherent creative abilities of young people and provides an outlet and guidance for them to learn about themselves. This wealth of knowledge and inspiration is what so many communities need in order to move forward in a positive way. Angie's story inspires me to see what is happening for the youth in my community as well! Thanks for sharing this wonderful story, Mirette!

Leslie Stoupas

bennettml's picture

Angie

Mirette-

This story has blossomed beautifully! The aspects mentioned by the other comments- trust, exploration of self, of country, of culture in a non threatening way are all described so wonderfully by you in this piece. I felt inspired to appreciate art everywhere- and I already love all types of art. Thank you for presenting Angie to us through your art.

MLB

mirette's picture

Thank you all so much for the

Thank you all so much for the beautiful and encouraging words. I really enjoyed doing this interview with an inspiring person like Angie. A special Thank You for my editorial midwife- Leslie Stoupas, and vision mentor- Mary Bennett, for helping me in writing this piece!

Mirette

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Well written!

Great story, and very well written. I love hear how she is working with youth in her communities to teach important life lessons. How did you come to get to know Angie?

Keep up the great work!

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Angie Soliman's picture

we used to work together at a

we used to work together at a company before we both left it to pursue our passions in our careers :)

mrbeckbeck's picture

Great work, interesting angle

Hi Mirette,
Angie is a really interesting person to profile! The arts are such a powerful tool for reaching youth, and I really appreciate that she is aiming to return the gift she received from the arts-- INSPIRATION! I firmly believe that if we work to unleash the creativity of youth around the world, we can solve some of the biggest challenges.

Thanks for sharing!
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

Ruth Beedle's picture

Thank you for writing this

Thank you for writing this article about a woman who is working every day to help with children learning to express themselves and learn how and who they want to be in this world. My belief is that the arts are key to encouraging and empowering others - especially young people - to better learn the truth of who they are.

Thank you!

Ruth

Julie Tomlin's picture

Inspiring piece

Hello Mirette,
I really enjoyed reading your piece - thought it was beautifully written and you really conveyed Angie and her passions very well. It left me wanting to know more about the arts scene in Egypt, particularly among the young people. Thanks again.

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

mirette's picture

Thank you all so much for

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read the interview and post your comments.

Best,
Mirette

Angie Soliman's picture

Thanks, you guys

Hi guys!

I'm FLATTERED! thanks for the support! it's rewarding to know that I'm not alone in my cause...actually, I am lucky to have Mirette as a friend...we believe in arts for social change and brining out the best in others...

Thanks for speaking out on both of our behalves ya Mirette :D

please contact me if you share the interest...it's great to expand the network...

Love

Angie

Angie Soliman's picture

Thanks, you guys

Hi guys!

I'm FLATTERED! thanks for the support! it's rewarding to know that I'm not alone in my cause...actually, I am lucky to have Mirette as a friend...we believe in arts for social change and brining out the best in others...

Thanks for speaking out on both of our behalves ya Mirette :D

please contact me if you share the interest...it's great to expand the network...

Love

Angie

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