On 20 September, curtains were raised on the 23rd Cairo International Festival for Experimental and Contemporary Theatre at the main hall of the Cairo Opera House.
The opening ceremony was attended by Sameh Mahran, the festival's president (and former president of the Academy of Arts), Helmy Namnam, the Minister of Culture, as well as many renowned figures from Egypt's theatre world.
The opening also included a special segment honouring the international guests of honour and the performance from China.
Following its five-year hiatus, and within the idea of change and expansion, the festival returns under a new name, including a "contemporary" genre into its activities.
"The contemporary and experimental might seem incompatible. The first reflects the time while the second term is more technical. But the idea of the festival is to highlight all the theatrical experiences that exist today," the festival’s president Sameh Mahran stated during the press conference that preceded the opening ceremony.
Another new procedure is removing the competitive part from the festival. As such, running between 20 and 30 September, the festival becomes an artistic showcase of theatre from Egypt and the world. Mahran added that many of the international festivals, like Avignon Theatre Festival or The Carthage Theater Days do not have a competitive character.
The ten-day-event will also become an opportunity for the theatre-makers to interact, develop contacts and get to know the practical particularities of their colleagues," Mahran explained.
During the festival, a total of 30 plays will be staged. 17 of them are by Arab and international performers. It is definitely a smaller number of shows in comparison to the festival's last edition that took place in 2010, which included over 40 international troupes.
"The selection committee watched 79 performances of foreign troupes and the selection was based on their originality and quality," commented Essam El-Sayed, head of the selection committee.
In parallel to the performances that will run across several stages, the festival will also hold workshops conducted by Egyptian and international experts from countries such as Chile, the United States, Pakistan, and India, among others.
During the ceremony, the festival's president Sameh Mahran, and Minister of Culture Helmy Namnam, honoured the renowned guests of the festival: Gamil Rateb from Egypt, Torange Yeghiazarian from Iran/USA, Mumbi Kaigwa from Kenya, Femi Osofisan from Nigeria, Mohamed Saif Al Afkham from the United Arab Emirates and Lu Ang from China.
Finally, the ceremony concluded with the opening performance of Thunderstorm, from China.
Check the festival's complete programme here
Check the photos of the guests of honour here
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