Cairo's Metropol theatre reopens after renovations

Ahram Online , Wednesday 9 Nov 2016

The Metropol Theatre (also known as Abdelmonein Madbouly Theatre) is the home of The National Children's Theatre

Performance during Metropol Theatre opening (Photo: courtesy of Dolla Sabry/ Artistic Theatre House)

Cairo’s Metropol theatre reopened its doors to the public on 8 November after months of renovations.

Also known as Abdelmonein Madbouly Theatre, the edifice is the home of The National Children Theatre which operates under the Artistic Theatre House.

Hassan Youssef, director of the National Children's Theatre, told Ahram Online that the theatre has been closed for renovations since March. He had previously stated in a press release that “it has been operating experimentally for the past three months.”

During this soft opening period, the theatre hosted plays during the Cairo Experimental Theatre Festival which ran between 20 and 30 September.

According to Youssef, the evening honoured several seasoned names in children’s theatre, including the first director of National Children's Theatre Mahmoud El-Alfy, as well as Mohamed Abdel Moaty, Hussein Hamed, Sayed Gabr, Hamdy El-Araby, Mahmoud Abdel Ghaffar, Nasser Abdel Hafez, and the late Sayed Abdel Rahman.

The opening also acknowledged a number of artists who have been awarded in international and regional festivals, including Sameh Yousry, Einas Noow, Mahmoud Hassan, among others.

Director Khaled Galal, head of the Culture Ministry's Division of Cultural Production, and director Ismail Mokhtar, head of the Artistic Theatre House, in addition to directors of the National Theatre troupes and a number of figures in the theatre scene will also be represented at the opening.

A performance by young participants in a workshop held by the National Children's Theatre was performed on stage as part of the celebration.

Director and critic Amr Dawara thinks it is impossible to talk about the theatre -- the body -- without mentioning the National Children Theatre -- the soul. 

Established in 1982, The National Children's Theatre troupe aims to target children of different age groups and provide a space for creativity, and social development through drama, and aims to be a model for children’s theatre in schools, culture palaces for example.

It presents works in three branches -- theatre by professionals for children, theatre performed by children, and storytelling plays for younger children.

Situated on Halim street in El-Darb El-Ahmar neighbourhood, The Metropol theatre itself witnessed many changes and has housed important theatrical works.

Dawara gave Ahram Online a timeline of the theatre’s most important moments throughout the years.

“The space used to be a cinema under the same name, until in 1959 Ahmed Orabi, [then occupying the role of Artist's Delegate/Deputy] changed it into a theatre,” Dawara says.

In 1960, the renowed Reda Troupe was performing there, as well as comedian Shekoko who performed monologues and the Aragoz (clown) performance. It also welcomed on its floors a new troupe called Saa’a Le Albak, which originally performed on radio with Fouad El-Mohandes.

The theatre was renovated in 1968 which allowed it to expand as the stage was deepened and more chairs were added to the hall to host 760 audience members.

From then until 1978, the theatre continued to host a number of important actors and performances, including El-Meallem troupe which featured the well-known actors Mahmoud El-Saadany and Mohamed Reda, Sanaa Gameel and Abdelsalam Mazhar as well as others. The stage also hosted El-Masraheya troupe of Amir El-Heneidy, and El-Nahar troupe of the renowned actor Mohamed Nouh.

Metropol Theatre afterwards became a national theatre, and in 1982 became the residence of The National Children's Theatre.

It was closed for a few years between 1986 and the late 1990s, and has since been operating until last March when the latest round of renovations closed it for nearly another six months.

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