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Episode 40: Drowning in Cairo

We had a fantastic convo with Egyptian playwright Adam Elsayigh!  Adam came to Mark for Redaction in NY, which is where we first met him.  It was so nice to get to talk with him more.
Adam has been creating plays that give voice to the issues that queer Egyptians have faced.  During this episode, we talked about the importance of representation of SWANA artists, about the reactions that different audiences have had to his play “Drowning in Cairo”, what elements Adam feels are vital to keep in mind when writing and presenting his plays, and much more!

To watch a reading of “Drowning in Cairo”, go to

To contact Adam, you can reach out to him through email or Facebook: [email protected],

The photos below are of:

Adam, shots from the reading of his play, the Mashrou Leila concert that we mentioned during the episode, & a couple of photos of the Queen Boat incident.


Egyptian security flank 52 suspected homosexual men accused of sexual immorality as they arrive at a Cairo court November 14, 2001. The court on Wednesday sentenced a man to five years in jail and 22 to up to three years on charges which included “practising sexual immorality”, a local euphemism for homosexuality, a court source said. Twenty-nine men were acquitted in the trial which has been condemned as unfair by international groups.



  1. I got a bit of a chill hearing about the reading in Cairo. First I felt regret that I hadn’t known about it. Then I considered the thought process I would have had to go through to attend. Not easy. I know people are still making art here, but it’s pretty astonishing that 80 people will come together for an event this dangerous. There is still a lot of courage here. Under these conditions, I would describe this as a revolutionary act.

    I second what Adam said about the increasing restriction and danger for LGBT folks. It is a strange irony that it was under the Brotherhood that LGBT culture had a brief flourishing–shit, we had coffee houses!–they just didn’t really seem to care about us. Not so now. I think Adam is right that LGBT ‘debauchery’ is being used as a distraction and an appeasement to the conservative elements. And we do have a Russia-style law, as it is now illegal to ‘promote LGBT’ in any kind of media. Also, based on the progression of arrests over the year since the Mashrou’ Leila incident, I fear that this is going to continue and probably get worse; as the economic situation worsens Sisi is clamping down on all forms of information and expression and will need more distractions (e.g., Rania Youssef currently).

    Please be careful, Adam.

    • Thank you Allison – it means so much to us that you listened to this episode. Your and Adam’s episodes are so important in giving insight into the situation in Egypt, and we’re incredibly lucky to have had you both on. Hopefully you and Adam can connect someday in Cairo. And hopefully things will someday go uphill in Egypt – they have to.

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