The fourth season of the University Theatre Stars (UTS) kicked off last week at the open-air stage in front of the Hanager Theatre at the Cairo Opera House.
With the theme "The Return of the Spirit," the fourth edition is meant to restore energy to the creative field and university theatres which have suspended their activities since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
The initiative also aims at reviving theatrical activities across Egyptian universities while providing a platform for talents in acting, directing, and scenography.
The event is the brainchild of Egyptian director Khaled Galal, who for many years has been heading the Creativity Centre and the Actors' Studio operating under its wings and which has shed light on many young actors in theatre, television and film.
The first edition of UTS took place in July 2014, the second in February 2016, and third in April 2018.
Organised by the Cultural Development Fund of Egypt's Ministry of Culture, the UTS usually takes place on the stage of the Creativity Centre. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year it has been moved to an outdoor location.
The opening of the fourth season took place on 22 October with a performance titled "No Truth at the Rashomon's Gate." The play is based on a short story by Japanese writer Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. Performed by the students of the Future University, the text was adapted for stage and directed by Karim Shahdi.
The opening ceremony was attended by director Galal; Hisham Azmy, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Culture, and Neveen Mohamed, head of the Archive and National Documents.
Continuing with daily performances until 31 October, the event brings together 10 theatrical troupes from numerous Egyptian universities.
The plays were selected from over 110 performances submitted by troupes from the Cairo University, Future University, as well as the universities of Ain Shams, Helwan, Alexandria, Damietta, Benha, Mansoura, Port Said, and Fayoum. The selection commitee included journalists and theatre critics Hend Salama, Basem Sadek, and May Selim.
As per the festival's tradition, a number of theatre figures are honoured during the event. This year, among the honorees are artists Mohamed Al-Sagheer, Shady Sorour, Mohamed Tharwat, Mohsen Mansour, Tarek Abdel Aziz, Ahmed Amin, Amr Saad and Amr Abdel Gelil.
Previous honorees include renowned actors and directors such as Bayoumi Fouad, Mohamed Farag, Iman Sayed, Fatouh Ahmed, Sameh Hussein, Hisham Ismail, Ahmed Bedair, Ahmed Kamal, Mohsen Helmi, among many others who throughout the years contributed to the development of Egyptian theatre.
The jury of this year's edition is headed by Mohamed Desouky. The panel includes Ihab Fahmy, Samir Shaheen, Islam Imam, and Marwa Odeh.
The jury will select the winning play, which will then have an opportunity to participate in Egypt's National Theatre Festival, an annual event which usually takes place in August.
The awards are also given to the best actress, best actor, best director, best scenography and best costume design.
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