The 11th annual National Festival of Egyptian Theatre will run from 19 July to 2 August, featuring 20 plays in the main competition.
While the festival's complete programme is yet to be released, the event's themes have been announced: this year’s festival is dedicated to the late Egyptian playwright Mahmoud Diab, Sudan is the guest of honour, and a special stress will be given to children’s theatre.
Diab was born in Ismailiya in 1932. After completing a bachelor and master’s degree in law, he reached the status of counsel at the State Lawsuits Authority.
He started writing short stories in 1960, earning him awards, and later went on to write stories and plays exploring nationalist ideals.
His first play was El-Beyt El-Qadeem (The Old House) in 1963, which was staged around cities in Egypt and then in Iraq, Sudan and Syria after it won an award from the Academy of the Arabic Language in Cairo.
Some of his notable plays include El-Zawbaa (The Storm) which earned him the UNESCO prize for Best Arabic Playwright, as well as Donia Pianola and Regal Lahom Roos (Men Who Have Heads).
He received honours from both then-president Anwar El-Sadat, and from Egyptian television.
He died in 1983 aged 50.
Sudan is the festival’s guest of honour, and the country’s National Sudanese Theatre troupe will stage the play Ketmet, outside of the competition.
The play is directed by Hatem Mohamed Aly, and is written by one of its stars, Nasr El-Din Abdallah.
The comedy tackles the harsh reality check that young people encounter upon graduation. It also critiques corruption in the field of education, medical care, and other contemporary issues and aspects of life in Sudan.
A seminar will also be held that focuses on Sudanese theatre, with critics from Egypt and Sudan discussing its history, most important landmarks, and links to Egyptian theatre.
The festival will also introduce a special programme for children’s theatre, which will be inaugurated on 20 July at the Metropol Theatre with a performance of Snow White, written and directed by Mohsen Rizk.
Culture Minister Ines Abdel-Dayem will attend the inaugural performance.
The performers putting on the seven children’s plays included in this year’s festival include groups from Cairo, Aswan, Port Said, Alexandria, Damietta, and El-Gharbiya, and are to be staged between the Metropol Theatre and the Cairo Puppet Theatre.
This year’s festival will also honour director Galal El-Sharkawy, playwright Mohamed Abo El-Ela El-Salamony, actress Samira Mohsen, actor Hussein Abdelkader, set designer Hussein El-Ezaby, and the late critic Mohamed El-Refaey.
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