London's Shubbak Festival showcasing Arab creativity aims to 'connect to people' in times of Covid

Ahram Online , Saturday 29 May 2021

The biennial festival will include live performances in open spaces and a large number of online events


Shubbak Festival: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture is London's biennial festival dedicated to showcasing Arab creativity. The upcoming edition will take place between 10 June and 17 July.

The multi-disciplinary festival will showcase theatre, dance, music, visual art, film screenings, literature, talks, and workshops on hybrid platforms.
Due to Covid-19, the festival will offer a large number of virtual activities paralleled by digital screenings of outdoor activities. The latter events include audio-guided walks and performances meant to encourage the attendees to experience London as both a real and imaginary city.

The venues hosting real-life events this year include the Chelsea Physic Garden, Barbican, the British Museum, Toynbee Studios, King’s Place, the Jazz Café, and Mosaic Rooms.

"Born out of the rupture across Arab countries 10 years ago, the festival’s programme reflects our fundamental desire to connect to people and ideas across borders in an unsettled world. Taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival offers new perspectives on how we can come together again. It asks how historical events and personal experiences shape our existence," the festival's website reads.

The festival reveals that "new collaborations and commissions from the freshest UK and international music and spoken word talent are shared in close-up encounters in our city’s re-opened venues. An installation in one of London’s most iconic gardens uncovers subtle histories through personal memories, while beautifully designed posters inspired by new literature appear in places with diasporic history."

The festival will also feature visits by international artists. The decreased number of physical visits is compensated by a large number of international activities held through the digital programme.

As the festival's website notes, many artists have seen their work postponed or cancelled during the last year. "Shubbak has become a major catalyst for artists to continue creating, and preparing new work for this summer. Be transported to a theatre in Germany for a world premiere by a Syrian theatre company, tune into livestreams from locations including Riyadh, Khartoum, Gaza, Doha and Slemani. Discover the burgeoning hip hop scene in The Gulf through our commissioned film or lose yourself in the immersive sounds of four DJ/VJ sets from Casablanca, Tunis, Cairo and Algiers." Shubbak has also commissioned 14 young SWANA artists to work on the theme of community.

Creating the "most multi-centred and dispersed Shubbak yet, taking you right into the centre of creativity in Arab and international cities," the festival's programme is available at Shubbak's website here

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