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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Egypt’s first puppet assembly

What brings Pinocchio, Aragouz, shadow puppets, as well as over 50 other puppets together for the first time in one room?

Amira Noshokaty , Monday 2 Nov 2015
Puppet exhibition
Puppet exhibition at Hanager Arts Center (Photo: Amira El Noshokaty)
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What brings Pinocchio, Aragouz, shadow puppets as well as over 50 other puppets for the first time together in one room?

Puppet exhibition - Inner
Puppet exhibition at Hanager Arts Center (Photo: Amira El Noshokaty)

An enchanting gathering of puppets and dolls is currently on display at Al-Hanager exhibition room until Wednesday 4 November as part of The Third Arab Forum for Puppet Arts and Shadow Puppets. The first Egyptian puppet exhibition is being held in collaboration with UNIMA-Egypt, Cairo Puppet Theatre and the Arab Theatre Institute. This idea is the brainchild of artist Walid Badr, a puppeteer himself, and founder of Welyawel independent puppet troupe and president of UMINA Egypt (Union International De La Marionette).

Puppet exhibition - Inner
Puppet exhibition at Hanager Arts Center (Photo: Amira El Noshokaty)

“I’ve always had a passion for puppets since middle school and by chance, I performed my first puppet play and since then I was enchanted,” explained Badr to Ahram Online about how he approached the UMINA. By 2012, Egypt was a member and we held our first exhibition in China. “We’ve managed to make exact copies of the ancient Egyptian wooden dolls, and they were well received and greatly admired in an international gathering for puppets,” he remembered.

The exhibition beholds the works of 36 Egyptian artists, troupes as well as a special section of Cairo Puppet Theatre where the original puppets from Egypt’s most famous puppet play AL-Leila Al-Kabira(a national hit since the sixties and considered to be the most famous puppet plays to date, with lyrics by poetry pillar Salah Jaheen, puppets by iconic Nagi Shaker and directed by Salah El-Sakka), is on display. 

Puppet exhibition - Inner
Puppet exhibition at Hanager Arts Center (Photo: Amira El Noshokaty)

Puppets in all shapes and forms are assembled in one room ready to tell their stories to those who listen. Their mere gathering in one place brings back the magic of story telling, and the powerful imagination it evokes. There were three stands of shadow puppets, their classical style, and a modern one reminding us of how far we’ve come in this fine art of imagination and dreams.

Puppet exhibition - Inner
Puppet exhibition at Hanager Arts Center (Photo: Amira El Noshokaty)

Part of the exhibition is a unique set of the authentic Egyptian alley built by famous Egyptian puppet artist Katamish, who made an impressive and detailed complete front and back miniature classic Egyptian alley based on the radio tales of Arabian nights.

Puppet exhibition - Inner
Puppet exhibition at Hanager Arts Center (Photo: Amira El Noshokaty)

“Egypt has a long history in puppets and dolls, as was written in the Encyclopedia Mondiale des Arts de la Marionette. It is around the 10th Century that the shadow puppet theatre appeared in Egypt, mostly marked in the 13th century by the texts of Ibn Daniel which are considered to be the first theatre plays in Arabic language, explained Jacques Trudeau, the UNIMA secretary-general in his published speech in celebration of the exhibition.

Puppet exhibition - Inner
Puppet exhibition at Hanager Arts Center (Photo: Amira El Noshokaty)

Puppet exhibition - Inner
Puppet exhibition at Hanager Arts Center (Photo: Amira El Noshokaty)

Holding such an exhibition for the first time in Egypt is a great statement, a revival of the great puppet heritage and artistic gems that seem to fade away in time and due to the many technological boundaries that dominate our world. However, Badr, does not believe so. “These are all opinionated theories, the fact is the puppet has an enchanting positive effect on Egyptians, on children in particular, it has always been part of our heritage and history from the wooden dolls to shadow puppets to Aragouz,” he added.

With the big turn out and enthusiasm that this exhibition has been greeted with, we sure hope that puppet shows will flourish in the future.

 

The Exhibition is on until Wednesday 4 November

Opening Hours from 10 am to 9 pm

Free Admission

Current Puppet Shows under the same event: 

Monday 2 November:

Place: Al-Midan Open Air theatre, in front of Al-Hanager theatre, Opera House Premises 

From 6pm to 7pm free puppet performance 

From 7pm to 8.45pm scene plays by Moroccan association for puppet art and El-Kousha puppet troupe

From 7.30 to 8.00 an improvised sketch by puppets 

Tuesday 3 November:

Place: Beit Al-Seheimi – Al-Moez street

From 6pm to 7pm puppet play

From 7pm to 8.45pm shadow puppets play by Wamda theatre troupe

From 7pm to 7.30pm improvised puppet sketches

Wednesday 4 November

Place: Al-Midan Open Air theatre, in front of Al-Hanager theatre, Opera House Premises 

From 6pm to 7pm the closing ceremony

From 8pm to 7pm honouring Director Abou Al-Agab (Adel Al-Tarteir- Palestine) and Saber Al-Masry, Egypt’s oldest Aragouz player.

 

 

 

 

 

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