On Tuesday 1 September, Egypt's Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem and president of the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre Alaa Abdel Aziz Suleiman will officially open the festival’s 27th edition at the stage of Cairo's National Theatre.
The opening will also be attended by the festival's honorary president Fawzy Fahmy, who headed the event over the span of many years in the 1990s.
The ceremony will be attended by a limited number of theatre figures and audience members so the theatre does not exceed 25 percent of its regular capacity as a safety precaution against coronavirus.
The festival's 27th edition is dedicated to Sanaa Shafaei, the late actor, director and academic at the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts, who passed away on 11 August this year.
The opening ceremony will begin with a short artistic performance directed by Kamal Attia, and the honouring of eight figures who played an important role in the theatrical scene, whether in Egypt or internationally.
The festival will continue until 11 September, presenting plays by Egyptian troupes on the stages of Cairo theatres, in addition to international performances available for online viewing.
The online screenings will consist of two competitive segments – Filmed Performances and Lockdown Performances – each showcasing nine performances.
The concept behind the Lockdown Performances segment is to present theatrical productions produced during the general lockdown. As the festival's management explains, these performances have a new and unique approach to creativity and modern technical solutions.
The Filmed Performances competition focuses on plays that are no longer than 90 minutes and were produced prior to the pandemic. Over 172 theatre plays have been submitted to this segment, including 96 Egyptian shows, and the jury has chosen nine to run for the award, among them one Egyptian production.
The Live Performances segment was added to the festival in recent weeks, and it results from the culture ministry allowing some shows to be performed on theatre stages.
As such, 13 plays by Egyptian theatre-makers will be presented at the Hanager Theatre and at the stage of the Institute for Performing Arts.
The prizes awarded in three competitions have a total value of EGP 75,000. The winners will also be awarded the golden shield and the festival certificate.
In parallel with the performances, the festival will also include workshops and seminars, with some screened online and others held inside theatres.
On its fifth day, 5 September, the festival will celebrate Egyptian Theatre Day with a special evening held on the National Theatre stage.
One of the new additions to the festival is Festival Memory, a non-competitive segment which will present the nine best Egyptian performances that participated in the festival's previous editions.
The festival will also include the electronic and printed newsletter, presenting updates to the viewers on a daily basis.
The festival's 27th edition is headed by Alaa Abdel-Aziz Suleiman, who has introduced numerous changes to the event.
One of the fundamental decisions taken by Suleiman is bringing back the festival's original name — the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre — which it held from its founding in 1988 until 2010. The festival's continuity was interrupted by the January 2011 Revolution and the many changes that took place in Egypt's artistic scene in the following years. After a five-year hiatus, the festival returned in 2016 with its 23rd edition and a new name: the Cairo International Festival for Experimental and Contemporary Theatre (CIFCET).
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