“Powerful” ★★★★ The Scotsman (read full review)
“Gripping” ★★★★ Financial Times (read full review)
“Compelling” ★★★★ The Wee Review (read full review)
“A remarkable production” ★★★★★ The List (full review here)
Edinburgh Festival 2021: 10 Best Shows ★★★★ The Independent (full review here

Performers Rebecca Banatvala and Juliana Yazbeck
Writer Sara Shaarawi
Director Catrin Evans
Associate Director Niroshini Thambar
Composer BalQeis
Sound Designer Nik Paget-Tomlinson
Illustrator Gehan Mounir

Niqabi Ninja 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.

More information on everything #NiqabiNinja at NiqabiNinja.net

A note from the team about presenting this piece in this moment

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 access@independentartsprojects.com 

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. 


Running time: 75 minutes (approx.)
BSL: allow 1hr 45m (approx.)

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

Co-commissioned by Shubbak Festival. Supported by British Council Arts Digital Collaboration Fund, Creative Scotland and Edinburgh International Festival.


12-28 August, Lyceum, Edinburgh as part of Edinburgh International Festival
Start times: 6.45pm, 7.15pm, 7.45pm, 8.15pm, 8.45pm, 9.15pm 
Book online at: lyceum.org.uk

19-28 August, Tramway, Glasgow as part of Beyond Walls 
Start times: 4.30pm, 5pm, 5.30pm, 6pm, 6.30pm, 7pm  
Book online at: tramway.org

26-28 August, Music Hall, Aberdeen
Start times: 6pm, 6.30pm, 7pm, 7.30pm, 8pm 
Book online at: aberdeenperformingarts.com

26-28 August, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness 
Starting times: 6.30pm, 7pm, 7.30pm, 8pm, 8.30pm  
Book online at: eden-court.co.uk

27-28 August, Dundee Rep Theatre
Start times: 6pm, 6.30pm, 7pm, 7.30pm, 8pm, 8.30pm 
Book online at: dundeerep.co.uk/

This August, we present this experience simultaneously in 5 locations across Scotland – Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. We want this collective experience to offer the space for audiences to think about what it means to walk in public space without fear. 

Completed Runs

8–17 July 2021, Artsadmin, East London as part of Shubbak Festival

Illustration: Gehan Mounir. Photo: Jemima Yong.

Audience Experience

The starting point for each performance will be the venue. 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.

Illustration: Gehan Mounir. Photo: Jemima Yong.


  • 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 interpreted and captioned film of the audio play is available, interpreted by Sumayya Si-Tayeb. This will involve watching the film on a tablet at the venue, then taking 30 minutes afterwards to walk the route and see the illustrations along the way. The whole experience takes 1hr 45m. Please email access@independentartsprojects.com with any questions.
  • A short access film of the route will be available 48 hours in advance.
  • A quiet space will be available post performance.
  • We offer free tickets to carers and personal assistants.

Sara Shaarawi, Playwright
Sara Shaarawi, Playwright

Sara Shaarawi (writer) 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 (director) 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. niroshinithambar.com  

BalQeis (Composer) an Egyptian live looping artist/Oud player, has been playing Oud for more than 15 years, classically trained in traditional oriental music and has evolved over the years to craft her own unique sound. Being a multi-instrumentalist, BalQeis takes control of every element of her music, as she steps onto the stage, she projects a wide spectrum of sound described as a fusion between Electronic, Alternative, Rock, and Oriental Music which comes from a vast musical knowledge, a multi-sided artistic background, and wide imagination, BalQeis delivers a captivating performance as a one-woman show with her live looping project “BalQeis Live”. BalQeis Live on Soundcloud

Nik Paget-Tomlinson (Sound Designer) is a musician, composer and sound designer, creating work for theatre and dance. He is an audio producer at Offbeat Studios in Edinburgh, an associate artist with Platform Theatre and a regular live accompanist at Dancebase, Scotland’s National Centre for Dance. As a studio music producer and instrumentalist, Nik has performed live on the gig circuit and had track releases in Europe and the US.

Nik has worked with a range of dance and theatre companies including Scottish Youth Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, Curious Seed, Cultured Mongrel Dance Theatre, Imaginate, La Nua, Starcatchers and TAG Citizens Theatre. He has also been nominated for a Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland in the best use of music and sound category.

Credits include Hindu Times (Royal Lyceum /Pitlochry Theatre/Naked Productions), As.Was.Could Be (Cultured Mongrel/Mara Menzies), Vent (SYT National Ensemble) Chronicles (National Theatre of Scotland/Project X/Thulani Rachia) Aluma (Merav Israel), Ice House (Ailie Cohen Puppets/Aberdeen Performing Arts), Enso (La Nua), Drift (Vision Mechanics). www.nikpt.com

Gehan Mounir (Illustrator) is an illustrator and concept artist from Egypt, who upon graduation she has been professionally working both in local studios and eventually as a full time freelancer. Having graduated from AUC in 2017 with a bachelor in Architectural Engineering, she afterwards made the decision to career shift into being an artist and followed her childhood passion. Ever since then she has been open to the concept of exploration in terms of what she does, but found herself constantly swaying between implementing industrial design and artistic expression, thus finding passion in both concept art and in storytelling illustrations. 

Having worked on multiple projects both locally and internationally along a variety of inspiring teams, her short yet still ongoing journey has been quite enlightening to her. Experiences with different productions such as advertisements, TV shows, comics, game designs, and other forms of artistic integrations constantly remind her of the broad influence art constantly has on the world. 

As a result her main goal is to stay true to her craft, always enjoy what she does, and hopefully do her best to serve good causes. In addition to drawing, Gehan does voice over professionally, is a music hobbyist, and a part time singer. She believes that artistic expression comes in all shapes and forms and is both connected and boundless.

Rebecca Banatvala (Performer) Rebecca’s theatre credits include: Mrs Puntilla and Her Man Mutti (Lyceum), A Tingle in the Plumbing: Love and Work, (Lord Stanley), Rotterdam (UK Tour, Hartshorn-Hook), Reveal (Collusion), The Three Musketeers (The Dukes), Rapport (Caravan Theatre), N.P.B.D. (Lyric Hammersmith), Deadly Dialogues (Atticist), Trident Moon (The Finborough). Screen credits include: The Princess Switch 3 (Netflix), The Syndicate (BBC), Love, Death and Robots (Netflix) and Emmerdale (ITV).

Rebecca is also a writer and devisor. Her show, Boxtickers, codivised with LJ Parkinson, is programmed for 2022 at Camden People’s Theatre. Rebecca has been shortlisted for Nisha Parti’s Asian Writers Initiative in conjunction with the BBC for her series Zoo House. She is currently working with Deborah Groves on her new book, The Neurodiverse Actor and has also written for The Independent.

Juliana Yazbeck (Performer) is an award-winning actor, writer & musical artist. She is best known for her roles as Roza Salih in Glasgow Girls (National Theatre of Scotland) and Yara in the Emmy-winning series Shankaboot (BBC World Service). Her solo poetry performance (titled Ana El Mukhalles / I am the Saviour) debuted at London’s Grand Junction in March 2021 (MARSM/Grand Junction). A cross between a spoken word set and a one-woman show, Juliana is performing it at this year’s Olavsfest (Trondheim, July 2021). 

As a musical artist, Juliana’s debut record ‘SUNGOD’ was awarded PRS Foundation’s Women Make Music Award. In March 2020, Juliana played the iconic Electric Ballroom. In 2019, she double-billed London’s ULU alongside Sudanese icon AlSarah, headlined the National Theatre River Stage and Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, and was nominated for the Arab British Centre’s Award for Culture. 

Juliana writes regularly. Her words feature in gal-dem magazine and on Medium.

Image (Niqabi Ninja): Mihaela Bodlovic. Model: Ebtihal Mahadeen.
Image (Sara Shaarawi): Beth Chalmers.
Images (During recording: Juliana Yazbeck & Rebecca Banatvala): John Merriman.