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Friday, 21 February 2020

Egypt’s famed marionette musical El-Leila El-Kebira to take part in Tunisia’s children festival

El-Leila El-Kebira will be performed within the 34th Neapolis International Festival for Kids Theatre, Tunisia

Ati Metwaly , Sunday 15 Dec 2019
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El Leila El Kebira performed during the Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children in Cairo, March 2019 (Photo: Ati Metwaly)
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One of Egypt’s greatest works, the famed marionette musical El-Leila El-Kebira (The Grand Night) will be staged within the 34th Neapolis International Festival for Kids Theatre, Tunisia, an event which takes place between 15 and 22 December.

The puppet show El-Leila El-Kebira (1960) was created by renowned late puppeteer Nagy Shaker to poetry by Salah Jahin, music by Sayed Mekawy, scenography by MostafaKamel and mise-en-scene by Salah El-Sakka.

The idea for the play came from Shaker’s interest in short radio programmes on the moulid (a folk carnival celebrating the Prophet or a saint’s anniversary).

For the play, Shaker created numerous unique and lovable characters: children, clowns, a lion tamer, the omda (mayor), and street vendors such as Nishan, a puppet modelled on Salah Jahin. Not many of us know that when Mekawy, a blind musician, found out Nishan was modelled on the poet, he placed a coin for good luck inside its head, where it remains to this day.

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El Leila El Kebira performed during the Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children in Cairo, March 2019 (Photo: Ati Metwaly)
                               

When the play saw light in 1960, it became an instant success. The story and the marionettes touched the hearts of children and grown-ups alike, and filled local and international art critics with awe.

Following the success in Egypt, the international accolades began with Bucharest’s International Puppet Festival (1960), where it won awards for puppet and scenography designs. Such achievements were repeated over the years as the play continued to collect awards and recognition in Syria (1967), the US (1980), Jordan (1993), France (1995), Italy (1997) and Tunisia (2000), as well as Egypt.

El-Leila El Kebeera remains Egypt’s most iconic puppet musical, it is also one of the main cornerstones of the country’s golden age of theatre and art.

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El Leila El Kebira performed during the Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children in Cairo, March 2019 (Photo: Ati Metwaly)

The play continues to be performed across Egyptian theatres and is often featured in the important festivals. Last March, El-Leila El-Kebira opened the Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children.

The Neapolis International Festival for Kids Theatre festival aims to promote theater for children and young audiences with regard to its vital role in the socializing process.

According to the festival’s official release, it also offers the opportunity for Tunisian and foreign participating companies to launch and/or strengthen cultural exchange through the scenic arts and through representations, meetings, symposia, roundtables, workshops, and training.

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El Leila El Kebira performed during the Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children in Cairo, March 2019 (Photo: Ati Metwaly)

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