30th Cairo Int'l Festival for Experimental Theatre launches at Cairo Opera

Ati Metwaly , Saturday 2 Sep 2023

The 30th Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre (CIFET) kicked off on Friday with a grand ceremony held at the Cairo Operea House's main stage.


Scriptwriter and author of the opening play Charlie Medhat El-Adl welcomed the audience to the festival, referring to it as “one of the most important and oldest theatre festivals in the world."

This year’s edition is set to run until 8 September.

"Experimentation is the secret of humanity’s development. Art has the ability to arouse astonishment. So let us not forget experimental art, where our boundless imagination leads to the most beautiful and touching creative results,” he continued.

The festival's president Sameh Mahran spoke about theatre as an art form that can move from one social and organizational format to another.

"There is no change in societies without experimentation. Whoever does not experiment, closes himself within his own circle, and dies suffocated by isolation and silence.”


He noted that the experimental theatre does not address the mass audience united by some ideology, or some grand narrative. Rather, it is meant to address the individual spectator who aims to reassess the past and present with tools of the present day.

"Dissassembling what came before is always triggering artists aiming to stimulate all his energies towards discovering what has not been revealed," he clarified.

The opening ceremony included a staging of Charlie, a musical directed by Ahmed El-Bohey and starring Mohamed Fahim, Nour Qadri, Ayman El-Shewy, Emad Ismail, and Dalia El-Gendy.

Charlie, which premiered in the Riyadh season last January, is based on the life and work of Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977): an inspirational artist who demonstrated on screen and in real life how to be a universal citizen who believes in the cause of humanity. The musical is modeled on Chaplin’s cinematic style, in terms of narrative, perspective, and fluidity of movement.

This year's festival will  honour numerous renowned figures in Egyptian and international theatre. These include Saudi theatre producer and CEO of the Theatre and Performing Arts Commission Sultan Al-Bazai; Emirati director Mohamed Al-Aamri; Ugandan playwright, performer, and producer Asiimwe Deborah GKashugi; Iraqi artist Awad Ali; as well as British actor, director, and acting coach Giles Foreman.

The 30th edition of the festival will feature 19 plays from Egypt and around the world.

Eighteen plays, including two from Egypt, will participate in the festival’s main competition. One more Egyptian play titled Frida will be performed on the sidelines of the festival.

This year’s CIFET is presided over by Sameh Mahran, with Mohamed El-Shafei as its general coordinator.

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