It’s a place where roles are reversed. A place where everything is possible. A place where nothing is forbidden. Kabareh Cheikhats are an all-male musical troupe
reviving the art of Morocco’s female folk singers,
known as cheikhat. At first I wanted to write a play about cheikhats. Specifically about men who are men in the daytime, and then become cheikhat at night. When I started the rehearsals, I had chosen five people but eleven came. I said ok , it’s not a problem. They can help us with the singing. I gave up on the idea of the play, and I said let’s do the songs of the cheikhat. The group is rehearsing
for an upcoming performance in Casablanca. Let him start and then you come in. I know it, but you also have to know. It’s not my job to tell you where we are on the playlist. It’s a question of functionality, you need to have a paper with the playlist on it. We were only men, and we were searching for the femininity inside us men. In the beginning, it was difficult, because our feminine side wasn’t obvious. But when we started playing the role of a woman, that femininity started to show. When we got dressed up and started dancing, we saw people checking out our bodies. They would lust over our moving bodies. So when we first started,
that issue would drive me really crazy. I didn’t like it. As a result, I said to myself:
‘Wow, women feel that everyday!’ In Morocco 36% of women say they have experienced
physical sexual harassment in the last year. 9% of men in Morocco say the same.
Survey carried out for BBC News Arabic by Arab Barometer 2018/19 When I was a kid, my grandmother told me: “Don’t sit with women, otherwise you won’t grow a moustache.” That idea kept spinning around in my head, ‘why wouldn’t I have a moustache?’ Afterwards I understood
that she was trying to scare me, so I would join the masculine world. In her mind, with men I will learn life. Kabareh Cheikhats is
a response to this way of raising people. If you have a son who wants to help you with whatever, he wants to sew, or to help you,
cook or to go to the market with you… It’s a good thing, it’s not ‘oh no, I have another woman in the house!’ My daughter for example, I’m trying to raise her without just raising her as a girl. I want to raise her as a baby. A small child who will then
decide what they want to be. Life is tough… 65% of young Moroccan men believe it is important or very important to conform to media ideals of the male body. This thing that we’re doing
with Kabareh Cheikhat is really great. Why? Because it gives me the power
to understand someone that is not me. Something that I am not. To understand something
that I can be or that I cannot be. The man that people consider to be the norm, I see him differently. We cannot become women. But we can be men who are women. However men always have this deposit of ideas, and we’re trying to filter out that heritage. The wigs and the dress are only props, it’s just to help the audience that’s watching us. As a man myself, I am a man according to my own definition, and I’m free to do that according to my own rules.