Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre to return with new format

It will be a hybrid between an online and in-theatre event

The Cairo Opera House. Photographed Dec. 31, 2008. Photo: Victoria Hazou for the National

One of the region’s most interesting independent stage events will return next month.

The 27th Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre, which runs from September 1 to 11, will feature a mix of both online and in-person shows.

To accommodate the coronavirus safety measures put in place by Egyptian authorities, the programme will be split into streamed and live performances, featuring more than 20 regional and international acts. The country has a vibrant stage scene, and the live performances will be held across various Cairo theatres.

The festival's most anticipated play is arguably Hareem El Nar (Women of Fire). An adaptation of the Spanish theatre piece The House of Bernarda Alba, the setting has been localised, with the plot focusing on an Egyptian mother's tumultuous relationship with her daughters. The play stars seasoned performers Aida Fahmy and Manal Zaki and is directed by Mohamed Makki.

Hareem El Nar is one of 13 plays taking part in the festival's Dr Hassan Attia Competition. Named after the late culture critic, other plays being showcased are Wurood Al Taj (The Roses of the Crown), Al Abriya' (The Innocents) and Shate' (Coast), all of which are produced by Cairo's Academy of the Arts.

The festival's opening night at the Cairo Opera House will also honour a range of regional theatre figures from past and present. In addition to Attia, other names celebrated will be the late director Mansour Mahmoud and Lebanese director Maya Zbib.

When it comes to the international side of things, productions from Austria, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Ukraine will be streamed online. Broadcast times, as well as the full programme, will be revealed soon.

Launched in 1988, the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre has become an important gateway for independent playwrights and companies.

The festival ran uninterrupted until the 2011 uprising, which led to a five-year hiatus.

Since its return in 2016, the festival has expanded to include various competition streams, in addition to masterclasses and panel discussions.

For more details, visit the festival’s website.

Sign up to:

* Please select one