‘My Private Space’: When Puppets Talk

‘My Private Space’: When Puppets Talk

The Founder of Pergola Theatre Rania Refaat

A group of children in Cairo’s less fortunate areas gather around a small, yet exciting theater. A sketch named “My Private Space” was on. A lady doll is being verbally harassed by a male doll following her. A policeman puppet and a passerby are on the scene. The audience is asked to make the next move, where one of the dolls other than the harassing one takes action.

The act was composed by The Pergola Theater.

“We love it when the woman doll is made to make a positive move instead of crying, but also like to emphasize how the passerby should not be passive, and how the policeman should come to the woman’s aid and help her file a case at the police station,” said Rania Refaat, founder of the theater.

Refaat is on a mission to educate children everything related to social and human rights, as well as values of women empowerment.

Loving dolls since her childhood, every doll had a name and a birthday – the day Refaat purchased it. “I dealt with dolls as if they are family, and my room was full of them,” she recollected.

Growing up, Refaat still bought a doll every now and then. She realized she can write, act and produce. She teamed up her talents with her passion for dolls and used art to spread ideas she believed in.

The Pergola Theater was born to convey her messages.

The naming is derived from the pergola, a type of umbrella that provides shade from the sun and rain for people to gather under. Refaat wanted to collect all political, legal and societal issues under her Pergola, and for people to huddle there.

Theater was a convenient educational method for Refaat; it is less controversial in conservative societies than other forms of art, such as dancing. The project was initiated in 2010 but launched in 2011 after the 25 January revolution.

Pergola provides different types of theater on a mobile stage…

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