Although a full existence of theater in the Rif and particularly in Al-hoceima is still somewhat uncommon, we can notice some voices that try hard to adopt this important cultural manifestation. It is only recently that some associations gave attention to theater.
With the belief that theater helps promote oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s culture and language, the Amazigh Association of Theater in Al-hoceima is an example of many others that try their best to revive this important art. It is a group of ambitious and talented people who have some knowledge about theater and performance, and who try to give a good picture of their culture and city. They decided to gather and create a group of theater in Al-hoceima as a first experience for them as well as for their city which lacked any form of theater that would help promote it.
The following is the text of the interview we had with Aziz Ibrahimi, a prominent and active member of the Amazigh Association of Theater in Al-hoceima. We asked him a couple of questions so as to let you know about their story, history and their problems.
Interview translated in English
Hello brothers and sisters.
Today we have chosen for you a meeting with our brother Aziz Ibrahimi from the association of the Amazigh theatre in Al-hoceima.
- Hello brother Aziz Ibrahimi.
- Hello brother Miloud. Thanks
- Can you please tell us first how did the idea of performing theater come to you?
- Thanks again Miloud, and thanks also for all those who are responsible for Agraw.com.
At the beginning, the members of the Amazigh association of theater in Al-hoceima had different experiences in theater. Some of us performed at schools, associations, and universities. Each of us had some knowledge about theater and performance in general. Then we decided to gather and create the Association of Amazigh Theater in Al-hoceima as a first experience for us as well as for the city, which lacked any form of theater that would help our language and culture survive.
- When did you create this group of theater in Al-hoceima?
- Actually, we have many talented members in our group though they worked only in few occasions. In 2003, we thought of creating a group in Al-hoceima. We performed only in the few spaces we had in Al-hoceima in activities held by different local associations. Then in 2004, we created our group officially. The members of our group had a great experience in theater before, the thing that helped us a lot. Then we performed in different occasions and acted in many spaces. Then our first play came out. It was entitled: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Zi Rkampo gha thendint, thenekreb ThhajitÃ¢â‚¬?. It was produced by Mohamed Benaissa and Ahmed Jouini. This play was considered as our first encounter out with theater. This is because we did great efforts in it. Then in 2005 came another play written by Omar Boumazough and directed by Choaib El Masoudi. We worked on this play and did great efforts in it as well. We should not forget our sister Faiza Chekouti who did great work too. This play was also a new start for the Amazigh Theater in Al-hoceima. We also worked on a new play later in 2006 about little children of Al-hoceima. This play was dedicated to the children of al-hoceima who are in real need of cultural activities, which they are really deprived of. We are currently working on a new play directed by Choaib El Masoudi and it is written by Ahmed Zahid.
- How do you organize your work in your group? Do you all perform in your plays?
- In theater there are many specializations. It is not only those you see on the stage that work. There many people who work in the background. Thus besides performance, we have people that work on directing, music, production, lighting… etc. And for a performance of a play to be successful, the hard work of all these people should come into play. In our group, we have many artists that perform on the stage. These are some: Ahdouch Botzokamt, Ahmed Jouini, Tarik Essalhi, Naima Alach, Anissa Ekarri, Belhadj Mohamed, Mohamed Ouahoudi, Najlaa Ouahoudi, Anass Dhirij, Loubna El Bouazzati, El Berkani Mohamed, El Berkani Ibtissam, Noufissa Allachi. Fouad Afkir, Abdel hay Elhassani…etc. Also children: Amal El Ibrahimi, Yassin Achahchah, Chahout Nourddine, Chahout Abderahman, Omayma Bouzambou, Kawthar El ghabzouri, Awssar Mohamed El Amin, and also our sister Rafiqa Ben Ali. All these people contribute with great efforts in our theater. For example, we have Mohamed Benaissa who makes music and lighting. Publicity and dealing with other associations is the job of our brother Mohamed El Hilali. I am in charge of direction in our Association. We also have people like Faiza Chakouti, Omar Boumazough, and Ahmed Zahid, who have great talents in what concerns the production of Amazigh Theater in general. Chaib Masoudi is in charge of production. He is a very hard working person and does a great job, not only in Al-hoceima but also in the Netherlands. We also have the support of many of our friends from different associations and backgrounds. Their support is also of great importance for us. This is all about your question about the way we organize our work in our association of the Amazigh Theater.
- What is exactly your job or role in the Amazigh association of theater?
- As I stated a while ago, I am in charge of direction and management. All what has to do with directing and managing is my job. In other words, my job is to deal with producers, technicians, and performers. I also produce some plays. I have written two plays until now. The first one is entitled Ã¢â‚¬Å“Miss n FetoutaÃ¢â‚¬? and the second play is Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ass AmezianÃ¢â‚¬?. These are my first experiences in the production of plays.
- Can you tell us about the festivals where you participated?
- We participated in the first festival of Casablanca in 2006. We also participated in the fifth edition of the festival of the Amazigh Theater in Agadir, in which we won the first prize. We also had a chance to participate in the third national festival of youth s theater in Rabat, and in which we finished third and won the best direction prize. We also participated in Tetouan in 2006 where many associations of theater came from different places of the world. We also had a participation in the regional festival in Oujda in 2006, and in many other festivals like in Tangier and Al-hoceima.
- Besides theater and performance, what are the other activities that your association does?
- That is true. In addition to Theater and Performance, we also give lessons in theater and direction, lighting, and performing. We travel to different and far places to help other people know about theater and their culture in general. We also organize a cultural week in which we invite people involved in theater and also music and art in general. We also talk about the problems of Tamazight and Imazighen in general. We demand good conditions for them. This is all I can say about your question.
- As we know, Chaib Masoudi is a producer who works with you. Can you tell us about him?
- He is a son of the Rif and a very hard working person. He has produced many Amazigh plays as well as other plays in different languages. He has a great background in what concerns theater in general. It is a very nice chance for us to work with this man, as we learn a lot from his experiences in plays production and direction. He is the head of the Amazigh Association of theater in the Netherlands. He is one of the active Amzigh members in Diaspora. We hope someday he would talk about his own experience in Theater as I cannot talk about it as it is a very big experience. He worked with us in the play Ã¢â‚¬Å“arba3 ojennaÃ¢â‚¬?. He is currently working with us in another play written by Ahmed Zaid, which people liked very much. In short, Chaib Masoudi put the basis for our success. It is thanks to him that we arrived at what we are now.
- What are the difficulties that you encounter?
- As the case with any other theater groups, we also have some difficulties, especially here in the Rif. But the biggest difficulty that we face in our work is where to perform. This is really a big problem in Al-hoceima. We make great efforts to come up with a text to play, we train, we look for the decors and clothes and everything, but when it comes to performance, we find no place to perform at so that people would see our plays. And this is our biggest difficulty. Al-hoceima does really lack rooms for theater and performance. The other thing that we lack is that related to rights of artists in Al-hoceima. A performer in theater is also an artist who should be recognized nationally and have the same rights that other artists have. This is a call I am addressing from your website agraw.com to all those who are responsible. I would also like to tell them that theater in the Rif exists, and will exist. We should not surrender to our problems at all, because if we do, then we would give a bad image about our city and culture as well. This is it Miloud.
- How do you see the future of theater in Al-hoceima or in the Rif in general?
- In Al-hoceima or the Rif, we have many talents and people, who care about their own culture like the associations Tawiza, Tfawin, TefeswinÃ¢â‚¬Â¦etc. the things is that, as I stated before in your previous question, all these associations and people should find something that would let them continue their work. This include support, rooms for performance and many other things that theater and art in the Rif lacks for real.
- We have reached the end of this meeting brother Aziz. Now you can say something openly.
- My words are very simple. I would like to urge people of Al-hoceima through agraw.com to come to their theater, music and culture, and to support their language so that those people who work in this area would feel that there is a reason for their work. We notice that football in Al-hoceima has a very large audience. We believe that also theater has the right to have the same size of this audience. I would also like to thank all those who visit agraw.com, which is a very nice website which gave a lot to Tamazight as a culture. I also thank my brothers and sisters in our Association of the Amazigh Theater in the Rif. Another thank you goes to you brother Miloud for giving me this opportunity to address our audience that we hardly have the chance to meet them. I should also not forget our brother Mounir Akhssim for recording this interview in his studio. These are my final words. Thanks again Agraw.com. Thanks Miloud.
- Thanks Brother Aziz Ibrahimi for this interview. Thank you Mounir for all your efforts and support you offered us in order to deliver this voice to all those who visit agraw.com.
Thanks a lot.
Audio interview in Tarifit
- Interview was conducted by Miloud Ayadi
- Translated to English By Hicham Boughaba
- Pictures provided by Aziz Ibrahimi from Rif group of the Amazigh theater in Al Hoceima
- Recorded by Mounir Akhsim