“Possession:” Music And Movement Dominate Performance On Hermits, Deserts And Demons

Possession was performed twice during D-Caf festival, and is directed by Tom Bailey. English director Tom Bailey worked with Egyptian actors from El-Warsha troupe to create Possession, a performance based on the experiences and writings of Egyptian Desert Hermits from the third century, blending choreography, music, dance, and poetry. The play was performed twice at Studio Nasibian Theatre as part of the D-Caf festival, which concluded on March 29. The subject came to Bailey’s attention through the work of French author Gustave Flaubert, who in 1874 published a book about St. Anthony, an Egyptian hermit of the 3rd and 4th...

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D-CAF’s “Before The Revolution” Portrays All Roads To ‘Inevitable Eruption’

In a dimly lit room, where the surrounding black walls invaded one’s soul, leaving attendees alerted with frustration and apprehension, only two performers under bright yellow spotlights, standing still, welcoming attendees with emotionless faces and what looks like soulless bodies, started the journey of time travel to Egyptian daily lives before the January 25, 2011 revolution. Before The Revolution is a 40-minute show, which draws the lines of frustration, agony, and despair that Egypt had witnessed before the revolution, leaving the audience to connect and build between the events that had led to a mass uprising. The performance was...

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“Without Damage” Gets A Ground-Breaking Debut At Egypt’s D-CAF

People may or may not be familiar with contemporary art, but it involves no damage to the audience to watch the amazing performance by contemporary dancer Mohamed Fouad and see for themselves what the performance has to say; to construct their own meanings. The 45-minute world premiere contemporary dance show is performed by Mohamed Fouad, designed by Saber El Sayed, and its music is by Ahmed Saleh. Early on in the show, Fouad declares that the performance is not about “the economic crisis, terrorism, or the new rising fascism in the world” or many other pressing issues he mentions....

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Make Way For Egypt’s Independent Contemporary Performing Arts

The art practitioners, art aficionados, cultural journalists and–above all–the regular audience members of Egypt are really spoilt for choice when it comes to the contemporary art scene, in Cairo, Alexandria, and several other cities. Even within the contemporary performing arts, there are countless events, formats, genres and colors, and a great deal of passion and dynamism on the part of practitioners. The ardor is striking and reflects the great variety of art practitioners, cultural managers, and venues. There are both professionals and amateurs, with some artists operating under the governmental institutions while others are embraced by the independent organizations; there...

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New York Theatre Honored Magda Saleh In Celebration Of Egyptian Dance

Egypt’s renowned prima ballerina Magda Saleh was honored during the event From The Horse’s Mouth in New York. Between March 13 and 18, New York’s Theatre at the 14th Street Y organized an event dedicated to showcasing Egyptian dance in all its forms and traditions. As part of the theatre’s From the Horse’s Mouth series, the event shed light on and honored Egypt’s first prima ballerina Magda Saleh through a variety of events. Saleh, who established herself in New York, is a graduate of the Bolshoi Academy of Ballet in Moscow and Cairo’s Academy of Arts in Egypt. She is also a former dean...

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Disability And The Arts To Be Discussed Within D-CAF

In line with the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival’s (D-CAF) commitment to addressing the topic of disability and the arts, a discussion session will be held The GrEEK Campus on Saturday, March, 24. The speakers will include Carole McFadden (British Council, UK), Chris Ricketts (Candoco Dance Company, Egypt), Mennatallah Azmi (Dancer, Egypt), and Paul Hector (UNESCO, Egypt). The moderator of the sessions will be Cathy Costain (British Council, Egypt). The panelists will discuss “in concrete terms the current state of differently-abled artists in the region,” clarifies the D-CAF’s promotional material. It continues, “The panelists will discuss an array of topics,...

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7th Edition Of Egypt’s 2B Continued Lab And Festival Took Place In Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor

This year’s festival kicked off in Cairo on February 13, moved to Alexandria, and concluded on February 23 with performances in Luxor. The 7th edition of 2B Continued Lab and Festival, which was organized by Studio Emad Eddin, was held in three different locations across Egypt: at Cairo’s Falaki Theatre between February 13 and 15, at Alexandria’s Jesuit Cultural Center in Alexandria on February 19 and 20 and at the Luxor Cultural Palace on February 23. The festival’s official press release explained that “as part of the lab/festival, every other year, four promising theatre directors and choreographers are chosen...

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In Photos: “Forsa Saeeda” Play Opens At Cairo’s El-Salam Theatre

The latest play by the Modern Theatre troupe, titled Forsa Saeeda (Nice To Meet You), has opened on December 29 on El-Salam Theatre. Directed by Mohamed Gomaa and written by Salah Arabi, the play stars well-known theatre and film actor Ahmed Bedir, alongside Fetouh Ahmed, Mohamed El-Sawy, Ahmed El-Demerdash, and Eman Abu Taleb. Forsa Saeeda is a social comedy about a 79-year-old man who is lonely at home, with no friends or family, until a series of surprising events present an opportunity for change. Music for the play is by Ehab Hamdy, set design by Mosafa Hamed, with poetry...

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Theatre Play “Surrender” Sheds Light On New Egyptian Talents Ready To Enter Acting Scene

Staged by the Actor’s Studio, an initiative housed by the Creativity Centre, Surrender is a play consisting of 13 scenes, on the pains of modern society, expressed by a group of young talents Surrender (Sallem Nafsak), a play directed by Khaled Galal and staged by the students of the Actor’s Studio managed by Galal, is yet another opportunity to discover new talents which, for many years now, the director embraces and nourishes. The play has been running since it opened November 1. The young actors’ two-year course is housed at the Creativity Centre headed by Galal and is usually...

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The “Motherline” Project Honors The Stories Of Women With Depth And Diversity

After starting in New York, the storytelling performance made its international debut in Cairo, co-directed by Eliza Simpson, Amanda Lederer and Dalia Bassiouny. The Motherline storytelling performance was one of three plays, all of which gender-themed, staged at the Falaki Theatre within the Show Goes On program (October 13-22 ). The performance is co-directed by Eliza Simpson and Amanda Lederer, who began the Motherline story project in the US in 2015. The project started organically with a gathering of women sharing stories of their female ancestry in a New York apartment and grew to become a platform for female...

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“A Feminine Edition”: Women’s Voices Prevail At 2017 Cairo Contemporary Theatre Festival

Ten out of 20 plays at this year’s Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre addressed women’s experiences. Such was the focus on women’s issues and rights at the festival’s 24th edition, that Femi Osofisan, the Nigerian playwright, and critic who was honored at this year’s event, commented that: “This year’s edition is ultimately feminine.” “It is important to distinguish between the various terms used to talk about women’s issues. ‘Female’ is a biological term, while ‘feminine’ is tied to the study of the genre, and ‘feminist’ is usually tied to politics,” festival director Sameh Mahran noted. Arab...

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Arab Arts Focus At Edinburgh Festival Shines Despite Visa Rejections By UK

Organized by Cairo’s D-CAF festival, Arab Arts Focus ran for a month, garnering positive reviews at the latest edition of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe The Arab Arts Focus (AAF) program made waves at the 70th Edinburgh Festival Fringe last month, despite numerous challenges caused by visa rejections by the UK. The program, that ran August 4-27, showcased stories on stage from Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Morocco, through 10 theatre and dance performances curated by an esteemed international selection committee, in addition to a series of seven talks. Most of the plays ran throughout the month-long festival, with some...

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A Step Forward: A Look Into The 2017 Cairo Intl. Festival For Contemporary And Experimental Theatre

The Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre (CIFCET) has just launched its 24th edition with a line-up revealing an interesting selection of Eastern European and Latin American plays. Last year, CIFCET made its comeback after a five-year hiatus that lasted from 2011 to 2015. Upon its return, the word “contemporary” was added to the festival’s name, no longer limiting the shows to experimental works. This year, running between 19 and 29 September, the festival is taking a step forward by almost doubling the number of participating plays. Last year, there were only 10 foreign productions, whereas this...

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In Memoriam: Adel Hakim

Adel Hakim was a French-Egyptian actor, playwright, pedagogue, and director. He was well-known for his work in France, the Middle East and Latin America (especially Chile and Uruguay). Adel was, alongside Élisabeth Chailloux, artistic director of the Théâtre des Quartiers d’Ivry, which became in 2003 a National Dramatic Centre (Centre Dramatique National). “Homme de parole, de dialogue et d’écoute, Adel Hakim nous a quittés” (“A man of his word(s), a man of dialogue, a man who listened, Adel Hakim has left us”). This is how the Editorial Board of La Terrasse, a French theatre newspaper, has said its goodbyes to...

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Egypt’s National Theatre Festival Marked Adaptations, Mystical Works, And An Enthusiastic Youth Presence

With this year’s Egypt National Theatre Festival drawing to a close, a closer look at the featured plays reveals a return to literary adaptations and mystical works, as well as an apparent fascination with student theatre. Shaman, Toqoos Al-Esharat Wa Al-Tahwlat (Rituals of Signs and Metamorphoses), Al-Toqoos (The Ritual), and Qawaed Al-Eshq Al-Arbeoon (Forty Rules of Love): all are plays based on Sufi tradition which have had great success. Is Sufism becoming a trend? It has been incorporated into various directors’ works, all of whom relied on the spiritual atmosphere to attract audiences. “We must learn to comprehend the circumstances...

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Hazem Shebl Appointed Vice President Of Prestigious International Theatre Organization

The International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians (OISTAT) has appointed Egyptian scenographer Hazem Shebl as vice president and a member of its board of directors till 2021. The announcement was made at the current World Stage Design (WSD) 2017 event in Taipei, Taiwan, where Shebl’s set design for the Egyptian play El-Selem Wel Teaban (Snakes and Ladders) was exhibited. The OISTAT was founded in Prague in 1968 as a global network for “specialist practitioners, educators, and researchers who shape, challenge, and imagine elements, events, and environments for the live performing arts,” as stated on their website. Sharing...

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Being ‘Inappropriate’ The Unspoken Battle of Self-Censorship

I. So when a man pinches my ass or grabs my boob or another tries to rub his dick against my thigh … you want me to go on stage and share this by just saying: he tried to do/say something inappropriate?’ –BuSSy monologue, performed in 2012 I am the director of the BuSSy project, a performing arts project that documents and gives voice to untold stories about gender in different communities in Egypt. These stories are later shared on stage by their tellers in performances usually referred to as ‘testimonial theatre’, since we document and take raw stories...

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Egypt Ministry of Culture Signs Agreement with DMC Channel to Film Plays

The Artistic Theatre House has announced that Ahmed Taha, director of the new DMC Masrah (DMC Theatre) satellite television channel, met with Egyptian Minister of Culture Helmy El-Namnam to cement a protocol between the two entities on filming and documenting national theatre productions. The plays in question are those produced by national theatre institutions in Cairo and other cities, including works by professionals and amateurs alike. El-Namnam has already approved the channel to start video documentation of plays presented by the Artistic Theatre House troupes, El-Hanager Center troupes, Creativity Center troupes, Culture Palaces troupes, and Folk Art House troupes....

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Queer Chronopolitics: Forests, Freaks and Performativity

The term ‘freak’ thus refers not only to bodies, but also to denormalizing social practices: loafers, being productive but differently, being queer/left/feminist – various practices that for whatever reason did not really lend themselves to any kind of integration into a neoliberal capitalist economy that completely cherished difference. – Renate Lorenz[1] Humbaba, a giant with intestines on its face, is the guardian of the Cedar Forest, or the Lands of the Living, as it is known in the epic of Gılgamesh. The epic has several versions – Old Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian – and consists of various tablets. It tells the story...

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“Untangled”: Gender-focused Comedy Brings Realities of Egyptian Youth to Stage

The play Untangled (Hal El-Dafayer) was staged at Cairo’s Hosapeer Theatre last week, where a full house roared continuously with laughter at a comedy tackling social issues among youth. The play is directed by Mohamed Fouad Abdeen, who co-wrote it with Sally Zohney, and performed by Wojood theatre troupe. The 8 and 9 April stagings came five months after the play’s premiere at Hosapeer in November 2016. Fast-paced, quick-witted, relatable and fun, but marked by a serious undercurrent, Untangled reflects on the issues and struggles of being young, recounting them imaginatively and humorously. The humour relies on many references...

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