Hakawy Festival for children kicks off with a bang

Ati Metwaly, Thursday 13 Mar 2014

Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children opened Wednesday, 12 March, with captivating performances by Egypt's Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Art School and Frogz, a US production

Scene from Frogz (Photo: Bassam Al Zoghby)

Difficult weather and some rain did not discourage large numbers from attending the opening evening of Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children on 12 March.

Scheduled to take place between 12 and 18 March, and in its fourth year, the festival brings theatre performances from the US, UK, France, Netherlands, Germany and Egypt.

The official opening of the festival was marked with a performance of Frogz by the US Imago Theatre, being staged twice during the day, at 11am and 6pm.

The opening also saw a performance by Egypt's Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Art School, an initiative founded in 2011 by l-Mawred Al-Thaqafy (The Culture Resource) with support from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Al-Fanar Foundation. The school aims to teach circus arts and music to students ranging from ages eight to 16 as well as providing health and social care to its students.

A large group of students from Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Arts School presented their acrobatic skills in front of a packed crowd in the gallery of Hanager Theatre. Performers were accompanied by their colleagues on percussion. The show was planned to take place outdoors, yet rain forced the organisers to move it indoors.

Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Art School
Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Art School performing at the opening of 4th Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children (Photo: Bassam Al Zoghby)

Following the official opening, US Imago Theatre invited the audience to attend their newest production, Frogz, on the main stage of the Hanager Theatre.

Consisting of five actors who continuously take on different roles, the performance is a series of scenes that transport children from the world of animals to imaginary experiences.

From life size puppetry to large shapes and objects rolling across the stage, the youngest audience was introduced to a variety of theatrical elements, including even black light theatre and shadow theatre.

The imaginary themes and objects used by the actors created an obvious bonding between the audience and the performance evolving on stage, transporting young viewers between sections filled with high dynamism towards slow-paced movements and even total stagnation of movement, which created a unique effect.

Scene from Frogz performance (Photo: Bassam Al Zoghby)

Frogz is an experience that joins a variety of visual and temporary aspects, breaks barriers, challenges traditional theatre's conceptions of time and space, provides simple yet extremely thoughtful moments, and while doing so proves that one can gain the appreciation of the youngest viewers for theatrical performance.

Frogz, which according to the troupe was the first children's theatre performance to be performed on a Broadway stage, will be performed on Friday, 14 March, at 10am.

The festival continues until 18 March with a large assortment of performances from Egypt and across the world.

Check the festival's programme here and read more about Hakawy Festival here.

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