Egyptian classic Al-Leila Al-Kabira still a big hit on stage

Amira Noshokaty , Tuesday 21 Jun 2016

Al-Leila Al-Kebira, or The Grand Night, has a 'grand' impact after more than 55 years since its first broadcast as a radio show

al leila el kebira
Photo: Amira El-Noshokaty

Al-Leila Al-Kebira (The Grand Night) continues to have a "grand" impact on audiences 55 years after it first debuted as a radio show.

On Monday, in Al-Midan open air theatre on the grounds of the Cairo Opera House, tens of children were mesmerised by the most recent staging of the classic puppet show.

The show, which was first broadcast as a radio show before it was adapted into a puppet show, depicts adventures and amusements during the grand night of the Moulid, or Sufi Carnaval of Faith.  

The old time favourite is a brilliant operetta written by the late vernacular poet pillar Salah Jaheen, and composed by renowned composer Sayed Mekkawi, with puppets created by the late artist Rahmi, and set design by the well-known artist Nagi Shaker.

The clown, the Sufi chanting, the folk customs and circus, the festival games, the peddlers... in all its details, Al-Leila Al-Kabira brought to stage the lights and the colours of the moulids of Al-Sayyeda Zeinab and Hussein, forever canonising the habits and customs of Egyptians throughout generations.

Over the years, the show earned various international awards, remaining to date the most enchanting and most popular puppet show in Egyptian culture.

But what was really special on Monday was to see the excitement and engagement of the young children with this classic show, and hearing their parents sing along with passion and great appreciation to songs they heard as children.

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