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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Segment of 1928 Interview with

Naguib el-Rihani

Including Comments by Badia Masabni


Translated By Priscilla Adum


Translator's Note: The October 19, 1928 issue of El Mesawar Magazine featured an interview with Naguib el-Rihani, Badia Masabni's on-again, off-again husband. In the middle of the interview, Badia walked in, so the interviewer asked her a question as well. This interview took place in Badia Masabni's very first Sala on Emad El Din Street, known as Sala Badia. The magazine doesn't give the name of the interviewer/author.

This translation does not include the entire article; only the segment with Badia Masabni.



Season of Comedy Acting

This week I conducted two interviews with the two comedic actors Naguib el-Rihani and Ali el Kasar. I made appointments with them. I went to meet with Naguib el-Rihani in the luxurious sala that is located on the north end of Emad El Din Street, which is owned and managed by Badia Masabni.

Naguib told me that he extends his gratitude to El Mesawar Magazine for its attention to art.


INTERVIEWER: What do you have planned for next season?

NAGUIB: Next season there will be a lot of competition between theater troupes.

INTERVIEWER: What plans do you have, and how have you prepared for this eventuality?

NAGUIB: It was my plan since the day that I first started my troupe to set it up as a local theater and to have Egyptian plays serve as its foundation. I believe that setting up this theater will be the greatest service we provide for both acting and for the public. For example, all the Egyptian theater troupes depend on plays written by western playwrights, and although they make quite an effort in producing these plays it's really a wasted effort because the foreign writer's plays are influenced by the events that surround him and by the environment that he lives in which is very different from ours. So we don't see that these plays are successful. I think the public would be happier if I directed the troupe in four Egyptian plays a year rather than four foreign plays a month.

INTERVIEWER: Is there going to be a change in the genre of play you will present and in the way you present it?

NAGUIB: It's been a long time since people have seen musical plays so I'm going to do that, and I will also present some operettas. I've reached an agreement with Mohamed Abdul Wahab on this. I will present my plays for one month, and then he will present his operettas for one month.

INTERVIEWER: This is a great genre, but is Badia going to have a role in the operettas?

NAGUIB: No, Badia will have the leading role in my plays but for Mohamed Abdul Wahab's plays he will probably have Miss Aleya Fawzy or Miss Nagat.

INTERVIEWER: What play are you going to begin the season with?

NAGUIB: With an Oriental story called Yasmina. I wrote it together with Ustaz Bade3 Khairy. It's similar in storyline to 1,001 Nights. I will star in it with Badia, and the composer is Ustaz Zakariya Ahmed. As for Ustaz Abdul Wahab he will compose his play himself and he is going to begin with the famous play Tousca.

INTERVIEWER: What is your opinion about government funding, and have you received any?

NAGUIB: Funding itself is a good idea and government supervision of acting institutions is the best way to improve acting and to give it a brighter future. Government involvement of this sort encourages sacrifice in the name of art. I can't deny my happiness that the government is thinking about funding, but I haven't recieved any money.

ABOUT THE PHOTOS: Top Left: Naguib el-Rihani. Center: Badia Masabni. Bottom Right: Mohamed Abdel Wahab. Click on the image to the right to see more detail.


INTERVIEWER WRITES: At that moment Madame Badia's presence lit up the office we were in, so I said to her:

INTERVIEWER: Fans of the theater are happy with the news that you and your husband Ustaz Rihani have reconciled, and they all hope that the coming season which you'll both be opening together will be wonderful. They are eager for what they were deprived of last season, mainly your lovely soul on the stage and the warmth and energy of the plays that you participate in. But what about the future of Sala Badia?

BADIA: Firstly, you flatter me! Secondly, the sala will continue to open just as always. I will open it again on the 20th of this month and it will still have its well known singers Madames Fathya Ahmed, Fatma Seri and Sameha Baghdadi as well as others that the people are eager to hear. I will strive to do everything I can to improve the sala and to maintain public confidence in it, and I will closely supervise its management.

INTERVIEWER WRITES: At this point I found that my job was finished so I said my good-byes and left but El Sayed Naguib caught up with me near door and said to me:

NAGUIB: Don't forget to convey my gratitude to the publishing department for their continued service to the art of acting, especially for their involvement in preventing traveling troupes from stealing our ideas, this stealing had been going on for 12 years and only the publishing department put a stop to it recently.

INTERVIEWER: Got it Naguib!




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About the Translator

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 




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