Sharm El-Sheikh International Theatre Festival for Youth opens in South Sinai

Ati Metwaly in Sharm El-Sheikh , Tuesday 17 Nov 2020

The festival’s 5th edition takes place between 16 and 20 November 2020 amid precautionary measures

Sharm El-Sheikh Youth Theatre Festival
The opening ceremony of Sharm El-Sheikh Youth Theatre Festival

Sharm El-Sheikh International Theatre Festival for Youth (SITFY) launched its 5th edition at the Sharm El-Sheikh Cultural Palace in South Sinai on Monday.

The opening ceremony was emceed by well-known Egyptian actress Liqaa Swedan.

The opening ceremony, as well as the whole festival, is taking place amid strict precautionary measures against the coronavirus with mandatory masks and social distancing among all the participants and the audience. 

The festival was originally scheduled to take place 1-7 April 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and general shutdown of all cultural activities across Egypt.

The current edition will run through 20 November. 

The opening ceremony was attended by Mazen El-Gharabawy, the festival’s founder and president; Khaled Fouda, the governor of South Sinai; Samiha Ayoub, the renowned Egyptian actress and the festival's honorary president; Ashraf Zaki, the head of the Academy of Theatrical Arts, representing the culture minister Ines Abdel-Dayem.

El-Gharabawy thanked the culture minister and the governor of South Sinai for all the help in making this festival possible this year, despite all the challenging circumstances.

Governor Khaled Fouda stressed during the opening ceremony the importance of the festival as a unique and very important event taking place in the Sinai region.

Addressing the renowned actress Samiha Ayoub, Fouda said “it is a great honor for me to stand next to the 'Lady of the Arab theater,’ whom we used to watch perform in theatres, films and television series. Your presence here is a great honor for all of South Sinai.”

Sharm El-Sheikh Theatre Festival
Samiha Ayoub

“I am happy to be among you. It would not be right to let year 2020 end without holding the Sharm El-Sheikh International Theatre Festival for Youth. Living in the country of science, faith and art, we are all committed to this annual event,” said El-Gharabawy.

With the festival’s fifth edition dedicated to late actress Sanaa Jamil, the opening ceremony honored a number of renowned theatre figures, Egyptian actors Hanan Mutawa, Bayoumi Fouad, Islam Imam, and Lebanese actor and director Qassem Istanbuli.

The honorees took the stage thanking the festival for the recognition.

Actress Hanan Mutawa expressed her happiness saying “I am very grateful for this recognition. It represents a great thing and I am honored to stand today next to all these stars, the lady of the Arab theater Samiha Ayoub, Dr. Ashraf Zaki, and my colleague Mazen El-Gharabawy.”

Daughter of well-known Egyptian artists Soheir Morshedi and Karam Mutawa, Hanan Mutawa thanked her late father for all the creative knowledge she gained from him, and expressed her gratitude to her mother for always supporting and directing her.

Sharm El-Sheikh Theatre Festival
Hanan Mutawa

In his turn, actor Bayoumi Fouad began by apologizing for not having heard about the festival before. “Blame it on my ignorance. But now that I am here, I realized how important and professional this festival is. The festival makes us all proud. I promise you that I will be attending this event each year.”

SHarm El-Sheikh Theatre Festival
Bayoumi Foaud

In its 5th edition, the festival will present 10 plays from Egypt and the international theatre scene, participating in a variety of competitions: 'Hamlet 1982' (Iraq), 'Isis' (Egypt), 'Dream-Less-Land' (Italy), 'Glass Monsters' (Egypt).

Among monodramas are 'Hamlet's Dream' (Kosovo), 'Image of Maria' (Egypt), 'Qoum Yaba' (Lebanon), among others.

The jury consists of numerous renowned theatre practitioners and academics representing different countries.

The main competition's jury is headed by a Jordanian artist Amal Al-Dabbas. The panel also includes director Nidal El-Shafaei (Egypt), and writer Khaled Al-Rawai (Bahrain).

The jury of the monodrama competition brings together artist Marwa Abdel-Moneim (Egypt), and directors Kevin Kimani and Khalid Abdul-rahim Al-Zadjali (Oman).

The jury of the competition focusing on street theatre, and performances at non-traditional theatrical spaces is headed by Ayman El-Shiwi accompanied by Ali Mahdi from Sudan, and Marina Dimitrijević Maka (Serbia). This segment will present plays from Libya, Spain, and Egypt topped with a special performance of a play from Jordan.

Apart of showcasing numerous plays from Egypt and international troupes, the programme also includes numerous symposiums hosting renowned theatre makers and workshops for young theatre practitioners.

The opening culminated with Isis, a contemporary dance show presented by the Forsan Al Sharq Heritage Company and taking the viewers to Egypt’s ancient times and the myth of Isis and Osiris.

Directed and choreographed by Karima Bedeir, the performance showcases young dancers such as Yasmine Samir, Nader Gamal, Mohamed Hilal, Abdel Rahman Desouki, Habiba Ibrahim among others. The performance participates in the festival’s official competition.

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