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Friday, 29 May 2020

El-Warsha's 'confinement times': Building on sound

Being one if not the first Egyptian independent theatre troupe, Al-Warsha succeeded for over 30 years in reviving, safeguarding and passing on folk arts

Amira El-Noshokaty, Wednesday 13 May 2020
Hassan El Gereitly
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Playing on the wording of the famous Egyptian proverb “convivial times are priceless” Hassan El-Geretly, prominent director of El-Warsha theatre troupe, surprises his audience with a new performance that plays on a timeless enchanting element: voice. 

From 14 to 18 May at 9pm, El-Warsha shall play their new series of well recorded sound material on their Facebook page.

“Confinement times is the first of El-Warsha’s audio digital broadcast on our Facebook page that will include storytelling, folk songs and a five-minute interview with one of El-Warsha’s special figures,” El-Geretly said.

Being one, if not the first, Egyptian independent theatre troupe, El-Warsha succeeded for over 30 years in reviving, safeguarding and passing on folk-arts for generations. Stories that lived for tens of years, epics and monologues that were illustrated in theatres in the twenties are all very much alive and side by side with new ones that are as authentic. Over the past 30 years, El-Warsha has stood as the perfect example of “safeguarding intangible heritage” and passing it on to future generations.

How are they able to maintain during confinement is quite interesting. “We’d stopped all collective rehearsals, limited them to occasional one-on-one with masks and Shabrawishi bottles (famous local cologne high on alcohol that serves as a disinfectant) and the rest is done online.”

 Being a radio addict himself, El-Geretly confesses that  online rehearsals brought the sound effect back in the limelight.

Their radio series that starts off this Thursday on their Facebook book page, shall show a wrap-up of their famous “Warsha Nights” that started off in the early nineties.  “Like the music halls of the twenties with various performances that have continued in form but changed in content of the vernacular Egyptian Culture from Epic of BeniHelal to Tahrir songs, and shadow plays from middle ages to stick fighting," explained El-Geretly to Ahram Online, adding that throughout the years, El-Warsha has been building on their own research, and hence operated their own form in their own right repertoire.

“During the revolution I saw a graffiti saying “times of confinement are priceless” and I used it as the name of the series to highlight the silverlining of every cloud, in confinement we are discovering all ways of communicating that allowed us to explore new means of exchanging ideas and meeting. I train online three storytellers everyday and I am consulting online on a project in Minya with the Jesuit brothers,” he concluded. 

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