Egypt's Wamda Troupe for Aragouz and Shadow Puppets has launched the first ever festival for the famous Egyptian traditional puppet, Aragouz, between 24 and 28 November in several venues across Cairo.
The festival will feature several acts and workshops to be held In both Helwan and Cairo universities, ElSawy Culture Wheel, Beit El-Sehemi and Tahrir Lounge, the Goethe Institute and other arenas.
Under helm of Wamda ("Spark of light” in Arabic) founder Professor Nabil Bahgat, the festival aims to revive and preserve this deep-rooted heritage art, and to honour the few remaining experienced Aragouz puppeteers.
"This is an individual initiative I supported myself as I believe it's one of the roles of the intellectual to help keep, preserve and spread folkloric and traditional arts, and this is what I have done for almost 20 years, presenting over 36 different shows in many countries,” Bahgat told Ahram Online Sunday amid the opening of the festival.
Almost 20 different acts will be presented frequently amid the festival in addition to long shows and improvisational acts, with workshops that will include training programmes about designing the Aragouz puppet and its mobile stage, in addition to several lectures regarding its philosophy, origins, animation and how to use it for educational purposes.
"The event is about providing different spaces for Aragouz arts performances and education targeting different segments of the crowd in an attempt to afford the Egyptian puppet its deserved status," Bahgat added.
Last month, Wamda said farewell to late puppet artist Mostafa Othman, also known as Saber El-Masry, or the Sheikh of Aragouz Players, who passed away in early at the age of 72.
Amm Saber, the oldest Aragouz puppeteer in Egypt, was one of the co-founders of Wamda, alongside the late Hassan Khanoufa, the last shadow puppet master.
The Aragouz wooden puppet dressed in red appears often in the streets of Egyptian villages during Islamic street carnivals (moulid) and other events and private parties, with sarcasm on political and social issues in a mocking high-pitch voice, using an iron-whistle they name "el-amana."
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