Mothers and daughters. Photo by Omar Adel
Mothers and daughters. Photo by Omar Adel

Mothers and Daughters

Tandem Shaml participants Lydia Ziemke (suite42, Berlin) and OzOz Ossama Helmy (Origami, Alexandria) have been joining forces on the workshop series and performance FOLD YOUR WORLD which uses stories of young people in Germany and Egypt as a starting point to inspire youth audiences to be the agent of their fate. Lydia now shares stories of mothers and daughters who participated to one of the workshops in Alexandria.

In order to reach our target groups we worked with various schools and partners. One of them was an independent Syrian school in Alexandria. One two-day workshop we did with children, and another one with women. When we started with a playful introduction it slowly transpired that there were several mothers and their daughters. This was unexpected and also a completely unprecedented situation for them. OzOz and I decided that we would not change anything but do the workshop as planned. This led to a few very interesting situations.

Mothers were listening to their daughters, when they were saying what freedom means to them – for example being able to stay out longer or to choose who they want to marry. And vice versa – daughters were listening to their mothers talking about their ideas of freedom, and often they narrated that it gives them freedom, or perhaps more peace, to be strict with their daughters, because they are very worried and they feel they have a big responsibility.

One story in particular made it into the show in the end. A Syrian mother had found a short skirt in the wardrobe of the daughter. First she was hiding it and always told her daughter that she had no idea where it was, and finally she cut it into pieces to prevent her daughter ever from wearing it. The mother and daughter were creating this as a theatre scene in our workshop. The daughter reiterated for the mother that she could trust her and both, mother and daughter had a lot of fun in the end.

In our play we made a scene with a girl who speaks very passionately about the fact that she wants to create her own dress and express her own thoughts instead of just following tradition.