Yussef El Guindi: Staging The Egyptian/American Experience

From the Egypt Independent:

Egyptian-American playwright Yussef El Guindi has received one of America’s most prestigious theater awards: a US$25,000 “new play award” from the American Theatre Critics Association.

At the end of March, Guindi won the Steinberg/ATCA award for “Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World,” a smart and layered romantic comedy that had its world premiere in Seattle, Washington, last summer.

After the Steinberg/ATCA announcement, Guindi described his appreciation for the award to The Seattle Times, saying it was “like being handed a bottle of water in a marathon run.”

In an email interview with Egypt Independent, he added, “Yes, forever running. Running mostly to catch up with what I expect from myself. So yes, I am working on a couple of projects. One of them is called ‘The Mummy and the Revolution.’ It’s a comedy/farce which takes as its starting point the recent revolution in Egypt.”

Guindi left Egypt when he was 3 years old. But he says that “Egypt will remain a part of me — a large part of me — whether I like it or not. And generally speaking, I like it.”

The playwright comes from a celebrated artistic family: His grandmother was the actress and publisher Rose al-Youssef, his grandfather was the director Zaki Toleimat, and his uncle was the writer Ihsan Abdel Koudous, who saw many of his books adapted to films.

Although Guindi grew up in London — seeing “many plays by the likes of Pinter, Orton, Stoppard, Hare, Shaffer, Bond, Brenton, etc.” — he returned to the American University in Cairo as an undergraduate. There, he said, he was engaged in the theater scene and acted in something every semester.

“I originally wanted to become an actor,” he said.

After graduation, Guindi moved to the US. In Seattle in 1996, he dashed any potential presidential hopes for his offspring by getting American citizenship. After that, he said, his work began to reflect his “immigrant” experience.

The award-winning “Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World” does just that.  Go on; keep reading.