Visual technologies, acappella, puppets and clowns at Alexandria's Backstreet Festival

Ati Metwaly , Monday 9 Apr 2018

In its fifth edition, the multidisciplinary festival offers a tantalizing range of performances across the Mediterranean city between 12 and 16 April, with street arts dominating

Backstreet Festival
(Photo: fragment from the Backstreet Festival's promotional material)

In its fifth edition this year, the Backstreet Festival will bring a tantalizing range of artistic activities to Alexandria, including films, clowning, creative visual technologies, pupets and an acappella band.

Running between 12 and 16 April, the festival's events will be spread across several venues, including the Jesuit Cultural Center, the Saint Gabriel Sporting Club, the French Institute of Alexandria, the Spanish Consulate and the Teatro Eskendria.

The opening show on 12 April will feature a performance called Fault ‎Line from British multimedia artist Rebecca Smith. The show involves projections of light, colours and shapes on urban structures.

According to the festival's Facebook page, Smith "specializes in combining hands-on creative activities with phenomenal multimedia stimulation, ‎delivering stunning mixed-media experiences."

Smith's show will be followed by BandArt from Spain, who will present Ann-Droid – The Wonderful Adventures of a Robot Girl, described by the organisers as a ‎"one-of-a-kind artistic performance that intellegently ‎fuses advanced visual technologies, with the creative mind of the ‎artists."

The show combines theatre with the newest digital technologies, while the protagonist wears an LED costume.

The following day, on 13 April, the Lemon Squeezy Quartet from Sweden will put on a musical show. Formed in 2010, this acapella band has proved very popular across Europe, winning several awards for its varied repertoire, which takes in Elvis Presley and the Swedish Mens Choir.

On the same day, there will be a screening of the German film Magical Mystery, in addition to a musical performance by Asyad El-Zar.

Street performances will dominate on 14 April, with events held at the Saints Gabriel Sporting Club. The line-up will include the Japense mime group "to R Mansion", presenting Cinema Paradise, an energetic slapstick performance with juggling and acrobatics.

Austrian troupe Time Traveler, meanwhile, will present their performance Belle Etage. According to the festival's Facebook page the mission of Time Traveler is "to keep the tradition of street theater ‎alive and to create their acts with love, passion, and dedication!‎"

Also booked for 14 April is Barcelona-based troupe Las Cossas Nostra, who will put on The T.N.T Show, described as "high energy, ‎outrageous circus, physical comedy, all wrapped up with Mr. Vitas hardest ‎stunt of all: The Bomb!"

The Swiss troupe Baccala will perform on 15 April, with two modern-day clowns presenting the Pss Pss show, which is billed as "brilliant, tender, hilarious and ingenious, inspired by Chaplin, and the stars of the silent film era."

The same day will also see a screening of The Dream Is Now, a French short movie written and directed by Boris Gibé and Florent Hamont.

The festival will close on 16 April with three unique events.

The first is Fados, a 2007 Spanish film directed by Carlos Saura, promising "a fusion of cinema, ‎song, dance and instrumental numbers" and which "explores Portugal's most emblematic ‎musical genre, fado, and its spirit of saudade."

On the same day, Egypt will be represented by El-Sakia Puppet Theater from Cairo, which has done much in recent years to revive the art traditional pupeteering.

The day will end with Las Cossas Nostra from Spain, presenting their humorous take on gangster chic: "Wannabe gangsters and Italian fashion victims Mia Mine and Mr Vita invite you to ‎enter their bizarre and absurd world as they welcome you to 'la familia'; it is a ‎world filled with hairspray, fake gold and snake skin."

The brainchild of Amina Abo Doma, the Backstreet Festival brings a variety of performing arts activities to the Mediterranean city, occasionally expanding its outreach to the capital.

The festival was launched in 2012 and has established itself as one of the most ambitious and sustainable independent artistic endeavors in Egypt.

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