Staying at home during Eid El-Fitr will be tough to bear. The Eid is usually synonymous with social gatherings, outings, and cultural events offered across the art spectrum.
With the general lockdown in place, some of us will look to local television and satellite channels as sources of entertainment: we will be re-watching Ramadan series and discovering new programmes and films.
However, over the past weeks, artists and artistic institutions created a large reservoir of cultural offerings which definitely compensate for staying at home; they include music concerts, dance and theatre performances, film screenings, and discussions with artists and about arts.
Check out the selections below and follow the links to enjoy each event.
GENERAL SELECTION OF MUSIC, THEATRE AND FILM
Best known theatre plays from Egypt and other Arab countries on Netflix
Nine plays were released in the 'Arabic Nostalgia' section of Netflix, and made available in 190 countries around the world, with English subtitles.
The plays are mostly from the Egyptian comedy theatre's 1960s-1980s gems, topped with a few titled from other Arab countries. Among the plays are Madrast Al-Mushaghebeen (The School of Mischievous), Shahed Ma Shafsh Haga (The Witness Who Saw Nothing), El-Wad Sayed El-Shaghal (1985), El-Ayal Kebret (The Kids Have Grown Up), Rayya and Sekina, Bye Bye London, etc.
Read more about Arabic Nostalgia releases here
Other Netflix offerings worth checking out
The Eddy: The miniseries released on Netflix in mid-May features Egypt-based Tunisian actor Dhafer L'Abidine among other Arab cast: Leïla Bekhti, a French film and television actress of Algerian descent; French actor Yannick Bouanga, and Lebanese actor Vincent Heneine. Read more here.
Sawah: The first Luxembourgish live action film on Netflix stars Egyptian actor Karim Kassem. Released on Netflix on 14 May, Sawah is directed and co-written by Luxembourg-based filmmaker Adolf El Assal. Read more here.
Exterior/Night: The film became fourth in 'Egypt Today’ top watched films shortly after its release on Netflix at the beginning of April. The film is directed by Ahmad Abdalla, written by Sherif El-Alfy, produced by Hala Lotfy, and stars Karim Kassem, Mona Hala, Sherif Dessouky, Basma, and Ahmed Malek. Read more here.
Clash (Eshtebak): Mohamed Diab's film was produced in 2016. The film explores the confrontations between pro and anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators that emerged following the removal of president Mohamed Morsi from power on 3 July 2013. Read more here.
Barakah Meets Barakah: A Saudi Arabia produced comedy and director Mahmoud Sabbagh's debut film, was selected to represent Saudi Arabia at the 2017 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign-Language Film category. In its world premiere at the 66th Berlinale the film won the Ecumenical Jury Prize within the Forum section. Read more here.
Still from Exterior/Night (Leil Karegi)
Live concerts from WE Online Music Festival
The two-month livestreamed festival organised by WE Telecom company in cooperation with CNL Music, features the best known Egyptian musicians and bands in concerts that take place between 3 May and 3 July.
The past concerts include Wust El Balad; Egyptian Project and Dina El Wedidi; Aida el Ayoubi & HOH; and Sheikh Ihab Younes, Al Hadraa & Al Mawlawia.
The upcoming week includes the following line-up:
Sunday 24 May at 10pm
Taking place on the first day of Eid, the concert's line-up is a surprise to the listeners
Monday 25 May at 10pm
Disco Misr, an Egyptian band performing oriental sounds with a twist of disco and funk
Tuesday 26 May at 10pm: Double bill
The evening will feature two of Egypt’s top rappers
Wegz and Marwan Moussa
Follow the WE Telecom’s YouTube channel to watch the concerts and read more about this festival here
Wust El Balad; Egyptian Project and Dina El Wedidi were among the first concerts organised by the WE Online Festival
Egypt Ministry of Culture’s “Stay at Home: Culture Between Your Hands” initiative
The Culture Between Your Hands initiative aims to bring theatre performances, concerts and other cultural events to audiences amid the current shutdown of theatres, cinemas and concert halls over the coronavirus pandemic.
During the past weeks, the ministry has uploaded many cultural activities which took place on Egyptian stages over the past years and decades. Check the YouTube channel for all the releases and have a look at a few examples:
Theatre plays include: I Am Carmen, Baad El-Leil (After the Night), Fragile, Ahwa Sada (Black Coffee), and for the youngest viewers Alice in Wonderland and Mahatet Masr (Egypt Station) staged by the Cairo Puppet Theatre.
Music segment includes: Omar Khairat, Um Kalthoum in a hologram concert, Assala, Medhat Saleh, Angham, Zamfir performing with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, Amal Maher, Hany Shaker, among many others.
The ministry channel features also a few films and meetings with the artists.
INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL MUSIC, OPERA AND BALLET GEMS
A large segment of the Egyptian audience finds refuge in Western classical art forms, such as symphonic concerts, ballet and operas. Here is a selection of some sources for the aficionados of this creative segment.
Internationally renowned Egyptian pianist Ramzi Yassa plays Beethoven
Follow this link to listen to Ramzi Yassa playing Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major “Emperor”, op. 73.
Not much information is provided under the video but from what we can see the Cairo Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Jiri Petrdlik who between 2011 and 2015 was the orchestra's principal conductor. Yassa's concert took place in 2013.
Ramzi Yassa (Photo: Still from the YouTube video released by Ministry of Culture)
Mariinsky Theatre's crème de la crème repertoire
Ballet, operas, symphonic concerts and even creative classes are among the online releases by the world renowned theatre, some available for a limited time.
Finding our way around the channel might be a bit tricky due to the video's titles, which are mostly in Russian. However, in some of them the English information is posted in the description of the video. It is definitely worth the search, while Google Translate always comes in handy.
The performances, which are no longer available for viewing in their full length, have only short teasers. So, checking the videos’ duration can also help in choosing what to watch.
Read more about the Mariinsky theatre's online initiative here
Mariinsky Theatre (Photo: A.Savin / Wikimedia Commons)
The best of The Royal Opera House's repertoire
The London's famed opera house posts new gems on its YouTube channel every Thursday. The initiative is part of the opera's ‘From Our House to Your House' project.
The repertoire ranges between ballets (by the Royal Ballet) and operas by the Royal Opera Company. While we advise that you keep checking their YouTube channel for the new releases, do not miss a few available those days:
Anastasia ballet: watch it before 28 May
The Royal Ballet released Anastasia, on the opera's YouTube channel on 15 May.
"A piece inspired by the true story of Anna Anderson, a woman who believed herself to be Anastasia, youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and the only survivor of the assassination of the Romanovs in 1918," the description accompanying the ballet reveals.
The ballet remains available on-demand until 27 May 2020.
Read more about the ballet here
Cendrillon (Cinderella) opera: watch it between 22 May and 5 June
The Royal Opera brings to you the YouTube Premiere of Laurent Pelly's production of Massenet's Cendrillon, an adaptation of the famous Cinderella fairytale.
The opera's cast includes Joyce DiDonato as Cinderella, Alice Coote as Prince Charming, Eglise Gutiérrez as the Fairy Godmother, Ewa Podleś as the Stepmother and Jean-Philippe Lafont as Cinderella's father:
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and Royal Opera Chorus are conducted by Bertrand de Billy.
Follow this link to watch the opera.
(Still from ballet Anastasia)
MEET THE ARAB ARTISTS ONLINE
Not only the online world offers performances, several initiatives approach the artists themselves, inviting them to discussions about their artistic practice and art at large. Check below interactions with many renowned artists from Egypt and Arab world.
The Artist Talks: 'Un/Controlled Gestures?'
Using their Facebook page, the Goethe-Institut Cairo has started hosting live Artist Talks with eight choreographed dancers from the MENA region.
The artists are participants in the institute’s Un/Controlled Gestures? Project, which provided an opportunity for young MENA dancers-choreographers to create and present new performances reflecting the autonomy of the body and the social control exercised over bodies, in its political, economic and interpersonal dimensions.
The artists featured include dancer Islam Elnebishy from Cairo; Palestinian dancer, choreographer and dance teacher Sahar Damoni; dancer and poet from Alexandria, Amar Al Qady; dancer and writer Muhammad Issaoui from Tunisia; among others.
Read more about the project here.
Cairo-based choreographer and dancer Salma Salem in discussion hosted by Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi. The online video is first Artist Talk, part of the Un/Controlled Gestures? project led by the Giethe-Institut
Art in Arabic
The initiative Art in Arabic (Fann Bel Arabi), has been launched on Facebook by an Egyptian couple residing in Canada, Yafa Goawily and Kaiser Moussa, presenting discussions with the Arab artists. What at the beginning of May started with 15-20 minutes long videos has soon developed to one-hour long in-depth interviews with the atists from the Arab region, live-streamed and then available at the Art in Arabic Facebook page. The discussions take place in Arabic language.
Among the many artists already featured are actor and storyteller Mohamed Abdelfattah; visual artist Raed Yassin; actress Fatma Adel; filmmaker Hala Galal; theatre maker Hassan El Gereitly; composer and conductor Hisham Gabr; writer, playwright and shadow puppet theater specialist Naguib Goawily; founder of El-Tanboura folk troupe El-Rayes Zakaria; among many others.
Read more about Art in Arabic here.
Art in Arabic
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: VISUAL ART VIRTUAL TOURS
The Culture Gate website operating under the Egyptian Ministry of Culture has launched numerous 3D virtual tours to museums and exhibitions, walking the viewers through the many gems of the Egyptian arts.
Gamal Abdel Nasser Museum
A biographical museum in Cairo dedicated to Gamal Abdel-Nasser (1918-1970), the former president of Egypt (1956-1970).
Mostafa Kamel Museum
A biographical museum showcasing the life of prominent Egyptian national leader Mostafa Kamel (1874-1908), alongside other important figures of the time including Mohamed Farid Pasha, professor Abdel-Rahman El-Rafie and Fathy Radwan. Read more about the museum here.
Glass Sculpture Museum
The museum was founded to commemorate Egyptian glass artist Zakareya El-Khonnani, and presenting the influence he had on his students and their works.
41st edition of Cairo General Exhibition
A showcase of Egyptian artists held in 2020 at the Palace of Arts, located at the Cairo Opera House grounds.
30th edition of Youth Salon
An annual showcase of works by young Egyptian artists, organised at the Palace of Arts with extensions to other locations situated at the Cairo Opera House grounds.
“Treasures of our Museums” exhibition at the Centre of Arts, Zamalek
Held in March 2019, the exhibition offered a glimpse into Egypt’s khedival period, with a collection of paintings and statues depicting the Mohamed Ali dynasty which ruled Egypt for nearly 150 years. Read more about the exhibition here.
10th edition of the Nile Salon for Photography
A showcase of works by young Egyptian photographers.
Cairo International Biennial of Children's Arts
Launched in 2019, the new Biennial showcased best works submitted by children aged 4-18, with a special segment dedicated to children with different abilities.
Ahmed Fouad Selim exhibition
Held at the Centre of Arts, the exhibition commemorated the life and art of Egyptian artist Ahmed Fouad Selim (1937-2009). It is worth adding that Selim founded Al-Bab Gallery, located at the Cairo Opera House grounds in 2006, where regular exhibitions showcasing his works are also being held.
20th edition of the Festival of Traditional Crafts
Held in October 2019 in Mahmoud Mokhtar Cultural Centre, the exhibition showcased arts and crafts from many Egyptian regions.
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