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Niqabi Ninja

Sara Shaarawi

An audio-led journey into the world of a Cairene vigilante

Image by Mihaela Bodlovic

Independent Arts Projects in association with Hewar Company for Independent Theatre and Performing Arts.

Part of Shubbak Festival, Niqabi Ninja by Sara Shaarawi is a graphic-novel style revenge story about one woman’s transformation into a Cairene vigilante, as she attempts to right the wrongs of the male violence she sees all around her.

Combining street artwork, audio-story performance and a walk through your city, you are invited to immerse yourselves in Hana’s world.

Searing with dark comedy this is a fearless reflection on the lengths women are willing to go to keep themselves and others safe.

Intimate, visceral and pulsating with a soundtrack to inspire your own resistance against gendered and state violence, this will be an intimate performance to be experienced in pairs or small groups.

Originally written in reaction to the 2012-2014 mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square, this is a story about rape culture and male violence, a violence that operates everywhere and isn’t limited to one part of the world.

Sara Shaarawi is a playwright from Cairo who is now based in Glasgow.


Join an online conversation on 12 July with Sara Shaarawi and the creative team as they discuss the making of the work.

The starting point for each performance will be Toynbee Studios. The show will be experienced through headphones and will involve following a designated walking route.

Audiences will be offered a series of staggered start-times across the run.

We recommend you book in pairs or groups, as we feel this is a piece to experience with someone you know and trust, who you can reflect with afterwards.

Ahead of the performance, ticket holders will be sent more detailed information about how they will experience the show.

  • A route map will be available to all audience members (online and hard copy) outlining the route, sensory and practical information (toilets, busy roads, noisy areas) as well as links to support for survivors and potential activists.
  • There will be a wheelchair accessible route.
  • Audio based descriptions of the site-based illustrations are built into the audio experience.
  • A BSL version will be available.
  • A short access film of the route will be available 48 hours in advance.
  • A quiet space will be available at Toynbee Studios post performance.
  • We offer free tickets to carers and personal assistants.
  • Devices are available if you do not want to listen to the audio walk on your own phone.

We understand that the content and form of this work could be triggering for people. 

Whilst we invite people who have to endure male and misogynistic violence to experience what we have made (including but not exclusive to women, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people), we understand if you choose not to. In fact we especially encourage those for whom this is not a daily threat to engage with this performance. 

If you would like any further information or a transcript of the performance before you attend please email 

We offer this piece of work as a contribution to the struggle. We hope that eventually – together – things can be forced to change and all those who encounter male and misogynistic violence can be safe on the street, in their homes or wherever the hell else they want to be. 

Sara Shaarawi is a playwright from Cairo who is now based in Glasgow. She has had her work performed at the Tron Theatre (Glasgow), Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh), Village Pub Theatre (Edinburgh), Platform (Easterhouse), Rich Mix (London) and the CCA (Glasgow). Sara also took part in the Playwrights Studio Scotland’s 2015 Mentoring Programme and the National Theatre of Scotland’s Breakthrough Writers programme in 2016.  In 2017 she was one of the recipients of the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland’s New Playwright’s Awards, and received a Starter programme bursary with the National Theatre of Scotland. Also in 2017, she partnered with the Workers Theatre to crowdfund and create Megaphone, a new bursary aimed at supporting artists of colour based in Scotland.

Other credits include the dramaturgy, performance and translation of One Day in Spring (Oran Mor/NTS) and Here’s the News from Over There (Northern Stage), and project managing the Arab Arts Focus showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017.

Catrin Evans is a theatre-maker, academic and activist based in Glasgow, where she is the Head of Creative Learning at The Citizens Theatre. Directing work includes: I Hear The Image Moving (Tramway); Endurance (A Moment’s Peace); Dear Scotland (National Theatre of Scotland); Leaving Planet Earth (Grid Iron/Edinburgh International Festival); Some Other Mother (The Tron); The Sweet Silver Song of the Lark (A Play, A Pie & A Pint) &The Chronicles of Irania (A Moment’s Peace).

As a writer her credits include: The Land Beneath My Feet (Dundee Rep); The Duchess’ Army (Stage to Page, Rehearsed Reading); Thank You (A Play, A Pie & A Pint plus an adaption for BBC Scotland Radio); We had Song (Stellar Quines, Rehearsed Reading); The Jean Jacques Rousseau Show, Demons, To Hell and Back (A Play, A Pie & A Pint as part of writing group the DM Collective). She founded and oversees the work of A Moment’s Peace Theatre Company, whose reputation for delivering innovative participatory arts projects across Scotland marks them out as a leading player in the socially-engaged arts community. Catrin completed an AHRC-funded practice-based PhD at the University of Glasgow in 2020.

Niroshini Thambar (Associate Director) is a musician, composer and sound designer. She works across live theatre, audio drama, installation and film, and has previously been a session musician on violin and keyboards, performing on the UK live circuit and on album recordings. Her theatre work includes Ghosts (National Theatre of Scotland) Hindu Times (Royal Lyceum /Pitlochry Theatre/Naked Productions) Here (Curious Monkey/Northern Stage) Gagarin Way (Dundee Rep) Home is Not the Place (Annie George) Chronicles (National Theatre of Scotland/Project X/Thulani Rachia), Secret Life of Suitcases (Ailie Cohen Puppets), Drift (Vision Mechanics). She has been nominated for a Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland in the category Best Music and Sound, and has had artist residencies or commissions with Imaginate, National Theatre of Scotland, Edinburgh Mela, Drake Music Scotland and Magnetic North Theatre.

Other recent work includes music and sound design for the audio-poetry work The Girls that Hide and Seek (Rupinder Kaur/BBC New Creatives/Rural Media), and music for the documentary film in development The Album (BofA Productions) from filmmaker Sana Bilgrami.

Independent Arts Projects (IAP) is a Leith-based producer of performance projects. IAP projects are artist-led & often explore identity, representation, or our contemporary world and aim to help us make sense of how we live our lives. We make creative works and experiences with people across Scotland and beyond.

Shubbak is the UK’s premier festival of contemporary Arab culture, presenting an outstanding programme of contemporary Arab culture both live and online.

This year’s features new perspectives, fresh collaborations and unexpected voices alongside distinguished names in an ambitious programme of premieres and new commissions.

With a vibrant mix of visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature, workshops and debates, both live and online, Shubbak Festival 2021 invites you to witness the creativity and imaginative power of Arab artists to speak of our times. | @shubbakfestival #ShubbakFestival

We’ve been working hard to make Toynbee Studios as safe as possible for artists, audiences, hirers, café customers, tenants and staff. Read the safety measures we are putting in place. 

Co-commissioned by Shubbak Festival. Supported by British Council Arts Digital Collaboration Fund & Creative Scotland’s Sustaining Creative Development Fund.

This is a European premiere.

Date and time

8–17 July 2021
Running time 60 minutes
8-10 July & 14-17 July
7pm - 9pm (booking slots every 30 minutes)

Please note
This is now a past event.


Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
London, E1 6AB
Tel: 020 7247 5102
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