Augustine (the French singer-actress billed as Soko) was a 19th-century Paris housemaid diagnosed with the then-fashionable condition known as "hysteria" — a catchall used to label many ailments women suffered in that age.
Onstage, in front of an audience, the young woman seemingly goes into a trance, overcome by a power that shakes and contorts her. The commotion appears profoundly sexual; she grabs at her crotch as she writhes. When the woman reaches some kind of release, the spell is broken, and she becomes calm. She leaves the stage to enthusiastic applause.
Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk wastes little time establishing that Gang-do (Lee Jeong-jin) won't be pleasant company. We discover the protagonist of Kim's gritty, moody drama Pieta grunting his way through intimate relations with his pillow, falling asleep, then waking up and wandering to a bathroom covered in entrails left over from last night's fish dinner, which he brushes away with his foot before going about his business.
Credit Mostafa Abdel Aty / Courtesy of Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
Egyptian folk singer Dina El Wedidi performs at Qasr El Nil Theater during the Downtown Cairo Arts Festival. Wedidi says efforts to revitalize venues like the Qasr El Nil are important because there aren't enough places for musicians of the post-revolution explosion to perform.
Credit Khaled Desouki / AFP/Getty Images
"Cairo is a city that needs a lot of dusting," says Ahmed El Attar, director of the Downtown Cairo Arts Festival. Efforts are underway to try to restore the city's past cultural glory.
Credit Mostafa Abdel Aty / Courtesy of Downton Contempary Arts Festival
Emel Mathlouthi, known as the voice of Tunisia's revolution, performs at Qasr El Nil Theater. Her songs of freedom left the audience weeping.
Egypt's capital, Cairo, is now synonymous with protests and sometimes violence. Late at night, the once-bustling downtown streets are largely empty these days. People worry about getting mugged or caught up in a mob.
But the recent Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival is an attempt to revitalize the area with music, art and culture in the old and forgotten venues of downtown Cairo, like the Qasr El Nil Theater.
Tina Brown, editor of the Daily Beast and Newsweek, joins NPR's Steve Inskeep again for an occasional feature Morning Edition likes to call Word of Mouth. She talks about what she's been reading and gives us some recommendations.
This month, her reading suggestions have a common theme: luck. Not good luck, not bad luck, but the often-ambiguous element of chance.
A Small Village Wins Big
Brown's first selection is a Michael Paterniti article from GQ, which Brown calls "a fabulous piece of very offbeat reporting."