By Mirko Heinemann
25.02.2009 / Zitty
Muezzin Abdelmoty was working in a decrepit old power station. Suddenly, there was a bang, and thousands of volts surged through his body. When he woke up in his home, his family had already given him up for dead. The muezzin’s account is humorous, but the accident almost cost him his life.
Abdelmoty, like the other three protagonists on the stage of “Radio Muezzin”, became a prayer-caller late in life. Other previous occupations were that of a solder, a construction worker, or competitive athlete. “Radio Muezzin” plays in the prayer-room of a mosque. Carpets are strewn about the floor, fan-blades rotate overhead, things look unreal in the greenish neon light. Films of street-life in Cairo and the muezzins going about their day-to-day business play in the background. The muezzins on the stage talk in Arabic about their lives. Or recite verses from the Koran; the translations flashed onto a video screen convey some impression of the beauty of the language. “The life of this world is but comfort of illusion,” we read. “Whoso is removed from the Fire and is made to enter Paradise, he indeed is triumphant”. The images created by “Radio Muezzin” are strong, and the piece draws its emotional strength from the simplicity of the tales told by four muezzins for whom religion is the substance of everyday life in a city of extremes.
The preview of “Radio Muezzin” took place in Cairo in December last year. The Egyptian audience was enthusiastic. The documentary theatre of Stefan Kaegi was new to them, and “Radio Muezzin” will be new and unique experience in Berlin, too. Few of are likely to have got so close to muezzins before.