BuSSy (Look at me)

Introduction:
"BuSSy" is AFCA's first cooperation the BuSSy project. The performance is based on true stories from egyptian girls and boys about gender. The idea is to focus on the gender issue by giving the space to young people to express themselves through arts. Professional artists of the BuSSy project will be involved with the teen agers in this performance to start building a generation of talented artists. The performance will be developed and directed by Sondos Shabayek the director of BuSSy.

About BuSSy project:
In 2006, two American University of Cairo [AUC] students began directing a performance based on stories of Egyptian women about their memories and experiences of womanhood. The monologues exposed real women's stories and provided a space for free expression on issues that society was failing to address.
The performances offered a unique opportunity for young Egyptian women to write for themselves instead of being written about by others. We are not professional artists; we are a group of passionate, enthusiastic youth with strong faith in the value and impact of the project.
In 2010, BuSSy transitioned from a university-affiliated group to an independent theater project holding a number of performances on various stages outside of AUC. Over time, BuSSy performances began incorporating stories from both women and men. Today, the project extends beyond "women's issues" as BuSSy now aims to tackle the complexity of gender issues from the perspectives of both women and men.
Why theater? Because we felt that this would be the best way to reach a large body of people while providing the story tellers - women and men - with a direct opportunity to publicly reclaim the truth as they experienced it. Our stories reflect a reality we are living with regards to gender issues that are experienced by all members of society, irrespective of class and background. We try through our performances, to reach the public directly, and expose that which society ignores.
What sets BuSSy apart is that each BuSSy performance is unique. In connection with BuSSy's recent venture in holding a workshop and performance in Alexandria, the BuSSy team plans to travel to different cities, different neighborhoods, different social groups, all throughout Egypt holding story-telling workshops where local individuals are encouraged to share their experiences with BuSSy in a safe, private, and comfortable setting. The stories will be collected during the workshops as audio recordings, and then they will be written and edited into scripts meant for stage performances. As story collection differs from one city to the next, as will the theme of the performance, and the performers themselves. BuSSy will choose storytellers [performers] who have little or no experience in theater, to encourage the notion that storytelling is a method for social change and individual empowerment. In this sense, storytellers who perform with BuSSy in their home cities break the traditional barrier of artists performing to an audience full of strangers; rather, the performers and the audience are neighbors, friends, and family.

BuSSy 13+:
More often than not, young voices, particularly those under 18-years-old, do not receive fair representation in the greater public discourse surrounding social issues such as gender, sexuality, education, gender-based violence, family and culture, and other pressing social matters. There is a veritable gap in safe, private, and judgment-free outlets for young Egyptians under the age of 18-years-old to share their personal experiences with navigating Egyptian social taboos in a constantly-changing sociopolitical environment. The BuSSy Project aims to provide a unique space where young Egyptians may feel empowered to raise their voices.

The BuSSy Project, in fulfilling its mission of inclusivity and empowerment of all Egyptian voices through story-telling, seeks to initiate "BuSSy 13+"--a story-telling workshop and performance based on real stories from young Egyptian high school students.
BuSSy 13+ will work with a group of high school students in Cairo, coming from various backgrounds and neighborhoods, bringing them together to shed light on the most important issues that they face in daily life.
BuSSy is a dynamic project, evolving and adapting not only its performances as new social issues arise, but also developing new and innovative methodologies to highlight the stories that bring to light the real Egyptian society that is not often highlighted in the media, or focused on in statistical studies on Egyptian social issues. The BuSSy Project is, from the core, a story-telling experience for Egyptians, by Egyptians--bringing to light issues that anyone can relate to. In this sense, BuSSy 13+ will widen the scope of the BuSSy Project to include an oft-marginalized group--young high school students, to give them the opportunity to add to the growing discourse on Egyptian society through story-telling.

Impact:
BuSSy will combine our project's mission of providing open and uncensored spaces for young Egyptian girls and boys to candidly and anonymously share their personal experiences with a range of social issues, with a larger campaign to raise awareness about the different, and often unreported, facets of Egyptian society through storytelling.
The project seeks to bring to light the under-reported, and often overlooked, nuances of Egyptian social dynamics that are not limited to the widely publicized social issues, but also include domestic violence, gender and sexual identity issues, traditional and cultural practices, and issues in education, and workplace ethic by combining theater art with social empowerment to create a unique platform for documenting Egyptian social evolution. The BuSSy 13+ Project will positively impact young Egyptian high school students by empowering them to speak their minds about issues that they find important in society.

Preparations Timeline:
AFCA already has an agreement with Sondos Shabayek, the director of "BuSSy" project on the timeframe of the first performance "The Premiere". Exact dates will be specified and artists will be contracted after securing funds for the shows.
Preliminary dates have been set for the performance to be held in the small hall of the Cairo Opera House between January and March 2015.
"BuSSy" 13+ will be premiered between January and March 2015 and will be touring in ten different schools as part of the tenth anniversary celebration of AFCA for Arts and Culture.

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