#Jan25 by Gail Young

Extract from second draft of #Egypt#Jan25

We hear the sound of technology grinding back into action and digital messages rushing back and forth. Tarek and his sister Nevine are at home.


Checking his messages

Thank God – the Internets back on – Hey Nevine – Mahmoud is asking if we’ve seen the online images of the streets – they’re empty – but the Police r everywhere.

Checking his appearance

Check – Hoodie, running shoes, phone charge up, cash …and some mace just in case. Am I ready!


Remember that Mahmoud said to use the hashtag #Jan25 to spread any information on our tweets……. And mace? How did you get hold of that Tarek?


That’s for me to know and you to find out. There’s a tent in Tahrir Square – the ‘Freedom Motel’ it’s called – I’m going in and camping out there…..wrapped in this (he holds up an Egyptian Flag and then puts it down as he pulls his hood up)


Be careful Tarek. If mum knew you were going to the Square she’d go mad. All that ‘ down with Mubarek graffiti’ you and your mates scrawled all over the place – it’s being changed by pro Mubarek thugs – it’s dangerous….


Fuck it – I’m going anyway (he starts to leave)


Wait Tarek, I’m coming with you ….(she grabs a coat, and the flag that Tarek has forgotten and  runs after him ..)

Mahmoud is in another location in Cairo sat in front of a screen

Mahmoud: On Facebook – we see the messages on the screen

 The mood inEgypttoday is different Ramy. Too many ppl still beholden to the mentality of slaves. This is so frustrating

 A lot of ppl talking on the street saying that this is good enough & we should not forget what Mubarek did for us. The irony baffles me

Ramy – r u there?

Ramy: At home on Facebook – replies to Mahmoud

But the country seems to be splitting apart. The cracks in my own family have started already…..

Mahmoud: replying

We are fighting for u, for all of us, for change, and now that we are a hair away from victory  u betray us ! Get down to the Square …..

Ramy: replying

I want a peaceful protest, not a revolution. I don’t think it is going to be like that

Mahmoud:  (replying on Facebook )

 Get down there Ramy  – it will be ok. I’ll meet u there….

Mahmoud strides off – Ramy stares out of the window of his room – we hear the pro change group chanting “SALMEYA” (PEACEFUL) in the background


Ramy (to himself) : They are chanting “Salmeya – Peaceful, Salmeya – Peaceful…….”

Ramy then puts on his coat and leaves

Tahrir Square – noise of angry crowd- Nevine and Tarek enter


I can’t believe how many Pro Mubarek people are marching into the Square – let’s go home Tarek – this could get really ugly.


No. You stay here with the women. It’s safer for you. If we don’t stand up to them it’s the end for us anyway. The police cannot kill us because we are already dead. Try and contact Mahmoud – tell him where we are – I’m going in …….

Tarek runs off into the crowd – noise of fighting, protesters shouting

Nevine:  shouts after him

Tarek – be careful………

Tweeting – we see the messages on the screen

INCREDIBLE stand-off  between pro-change and pro-Mubarek demonstrators at Tahrir square NOW #Jan25

Another pro Mubarek group now throwing stones . Stones flying everywhere #Jan25

She stops tweeting and looks around – says to herself

What the hell is the army doing down there? Why aren’t they protecting people?

(We hear the pro change group chanting “Where is the army” & “The people want the president to be prosecuted” – huge amount of noise)

Mahmoud and Ramy run on – Nevine shouts to them


Mahmoud, Ramy – over here

She grabs Mahmoud’s arm


I’m scared Mahmoud,  Tarek has gone intoTahrir Square….. and Mubarek wants the blood of Egyptians on the streets – it’s not safe….


10 Responses to #Jan25 by Gail Young

  1. ATT says:

    Well done on making such a big shift in this rewrite. You have put young people at the heart of the play. It is great to know a writer can move, shift, change, think at something from another direction. It is a good, vital skill for a writer.

    We like very much the injury– of someone we care about – at the end of the play. It is good, too, that the person injured at the end is the one least brave, least wanting trouble, most unsure. Good that we are in the thick of it at the end. This is where the drama leads to.

    In fact, the story seems to be one of: your central character making the move to act, going through doubt and fear to get to the moment of making change. This is heroic stuff – and potentially very moving and inspiring.

    Here is a question: is this still a play about tweets and technology? Or is it a play about people? Or both?

    I need to believe the voices of your young characters.

    Consider developing the play with these two strands:

    1. The twitter world where tweets are ‘real’ of that time of that place written by older characters. (Our central characters might read them, but not get involved in the tweeting.)

    2. A second, largely non-verbal, strand played out by the ‘kids’ – cos that’s what they are… kids caught up in a revolution. That is, one might be full of shit, one scared, one not bothered, one wants to go, one wants to but can’t. Whatever. They are real kids caught up in a big stuff. DO NOT LET THEM NARRATE.
    So… The action is all on stage and in the air via tweets.

    Wars and revolutions are messy, scary, changing. That is the world these kids are in.


  2. Gail Young says:

    Agree that it has been a huge shift and that in the third draft I need to combine both drafts / revisit the language of the young people in the second draft / and thnk more about how to dramatically portray use of technology

  3. Kevin Dyer says:


    Lovely to talk to you today – and lovely to get the draft of the play.

    Really coming along I think.

    Why? Because the beats of the story for the children is clear. There is a clear narrative string that runs from the beginnig to the end.

    You are also on the way to telling the ‘big’ story’ by tweets. Majorly better that you have not allowed your three children to ‘explain’. Now they only say what comes out off their gobs because of what they feel and what they want. That is how dialogue really should work, isn’t it?

    Well done on tracking the flag through the piece. (I have just done exactly the same thing on ‘the Girl who lives under the Piano’ – tracking a photograph; the object becomes a tangible thing that we follow all the way as if it was a character.

    I think you are right to use real tweets – veracity is a great tool in theatre… especially in a world of reality TV where ‘real’ things can be perceived as ‘better’ than ‘made-up’ ones.

    I think you should continue to talk to Nina about her production ideas for the play. Knowing the ‘tools’ the director is thinking can help the writer.

    Lastly… nb in how much detail we were beginning to discuss the play – that’s a good sign insn’t it!


  4. Gail Young says:

    Hi folks
    Off on hols tomorrow am – and wondering how the group took to the last draft of the play – I have had to submit it quite early due to being away. I am quite astounded how much time and effort I have spent on such a tiny play – really want to see it in performance now

  5. Kevin Dyer says:

    Hi Gail,

    I think the young performers are ‘getting it’. Not all of them. it leaves some of them cold – but so does the play about Millbank. There is some subjectivity in life isn’t there – especially in terms of art.

    The task remains the same for you – to make sure the story is told compellingly well. this is the same for all plays. Working out the beats; making a character that we care about and feel for – that;s what we have to do… especially when we write a political play.

    The play about two teenagers in a shed for 5 minutes is an absolute hit with our young company. It is one where the writer can do no wrong in their eyes – beacuse the materila is bullseye – is bang on their thoughts and lives.

    Your play could be badly written if it was performed in Cairo – but here you have to do better.

    Have a great holiday. Kevin.

    PS You ARE doing better, every time you redraft.

  6. Tom Patterson says:

    Just read the 3rd Draft and I think it is better than the 2nd because on the 2nd Draft the character are on the internet and the 3rd Draft they are using the phone. I prefer them using the phone because One it’s less complicated and easier to direct, Two it doesn’t drag on. And on the 3rd Draft i prefer Tarek saying “Forget that. I’m going anyway” than him saying “Fuck it. I’m going anyway” because there is no need for it. And I prefer on the 3rd Draft them speaking on the phone, than talking on facebook, because again it doesn’t drag on.

    • Gail Young says:

      Thanks for the feedback Tom . From what you have said the pace is better in the third draft and the action is more clear cut
      Looking forward to seeing it in action !

      • Gail Young says:

        Tom – I forgot to add a note about the swearing. As far as poss I am trying to base stuff / language on real tweets from Tahrir square with the hashtag #Jan25 – and there is a lot of swearing in those tweets. Understandable in the context of what was going on in Egypt at that time. If the play is to reflect life at that time around Tahrir Square it is impossible I think to leave out expletives completely in the script for this tiny play.

  7. Kevin Dyer says:

    Hi Gail!

    Many thanks for all your work on ‘The Egypt Play’.
    Of course you are very welcome to come into rehearsals to watch the work as it is turned from a script into a play – and very welcome to watch the work on the other plays too. (I sometimes think that as writers we learn more when other plays are worked on than when our own are.Sometimes it allows us to be more detached, objective, logical, ruthless.)

    The play will be very interesting at least. I hope that it manages to combine emotion and politics and theatre in its final form. if Nina can pull that off, it will pack quite a punch.

    The three big things for the writer to learn on this process are:
    1. ‘Show not tell’ is an old adage, a very boring thing to hear… but a very true thing for us to remember. never (or only once in a blue moon) let a character tell another something the second character already knows.
    2. Real drama takes place INSIDE a character – in their heart and gut and head. That is why the arcs of your characters, the tiny beats as they change through the story are so important. this is the STRUCTURE of a story.
    3. Don’t send multiple sub-drafts of each draft – unless you have arranged that in advance with the commissioning director. She won’t have scheduled in time to read them, so you might as well save your time. The exception is if you have a query and need then to check something ‘on the way’ to finishing a draft, and you have agreed this with the ‘reader’. Or maybe you finish early and can then send it off and forget about it – but then sending another after you’ve slept on it, doesn’t work as a process.

    I am sure Nina will tweak some of your text as she works the piece – the show’s physical nature will make that happen. Her job is to tell the journey of all three characters with clarity of emotion and clarity of plot.
    I suggested to her that it takes too for the second tweeet to arrive in the play, but I’ll have a look out for this when I see rehearsals. I also gave her an alternative to the very last line too – just to connect the line to the character’s inner impulse. Next time you are in, see what you think.

    So… Thanks again. And well done on turning a political event and an intellectual idea into a real personal drama. No mean feat.


    • Gail Young says:

      I agree about the last line – I am not happy with it either – and just wanted to get that last draft in as I had to change the characters from 2 boys and a girl to two girls and a boy and ran out of time
      Would really it to be a real tweet…but none of the ones I read were suitable. Would like to go to one of the rehearsals as it might give me some inspiration for the last line. Lots of stuff in the news about Egypt again at the moment . Would really like to write that last line myself …….

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