The seminar was attended by actors, directors, critics and figures from the Egyptian and Arab theatre scene who gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh where the festival continues until 11 November.
The SITFY’s founder and president Mazen Al-Gharabawi stressed that honouring Ayoub by the festival’s 6th edition is long overdue, adding that it is important for the young generation of the Arab world to know the history of Egyptian theatre through the great people who have shaped its creative meanders and inspired many.
Ashraf Zaki, head of the Actors Syndicate, recalled his work with Ayoub as an assistant director to Farouk Gouda in the play Blood on the Curtain of the Kaaba, whose cast also included Youssef Shabaan, Mona Hussein, and Ibrahim El-Shamy.
“During this time, I learned a lot about Ayoub, her abilities in acting but also creative management. She is an example to follow in values, ethics and artistic cooperation,” Zaki underscored.
Actress Samira Mohsen gave an example of her work with Ayoub in her first stage appearances.
"I had the honour to perform next to Samiha Ayoub. She was always creating the sense of safety and confidence.”
Mohsen added that when once Ayoub was asked whom she considers to be her successor, she said Samira Mohsen.
“This gave me a lot of strength,” Mohsen addressed Ayoub, who has since become her friend.
The symposium also witnessed presence of actress Elham Shaheen, who contemplated the current situation of Egyptian theatre.
“Our theatre has deteriorated and the public seeks works that suit their taste. It is our role to raise the bar and help the public see works that represent real art. The Egyptian artistic scene has a unique power of reaching the whole region and the world. We have to challenge the new tastes,” Shaheen said, also mentioning the emergence of social media as one of the main preoccupations of the young generation. She underlined that it is crucial to bring the name of Samiha Ayoub to the fore and keep it immortalised throughout the history of Egyptian theatre and Arab arts in general.
Amr Dawara said that in his book he focused on the actress’s multi-layered artistic capabilities, which aside from brilliant acting also extended to directing and management, and she is always excelling in creating special relationships with her colleagues regardless of generation.
Throughout her decades-long career, Ayoub, born in 1932, collaborated with the most renowned directors and participated in over 60 theatre plays, the same number of radio roles, in addition to dozens of television series and films.
Dawara underscored that Ayoub is also one of the very rare first Egyptian female directors who stepped into the field of directing in the 1970s. Ayoub has directed four theatre plays and has also coproduced a few plays and films.
With hundreds of works in her repertoire and creative brilliance, Ayoub feels that she can give even more to the scene. She expressed during the symposium that she finds it hard to talk about herself.
“I am getting to know myself through your talk. Deep inside of me there is this very humble person who feels that she has not done much. When standing on stage I find my strength; it is in front of the audience that I am alive; the presence of the audience allows me to create the true character that I portray.”
She is known for dozens of roles in Egyptian theatre, film, radio and television, creating iconic characters in Al-Bakheel (The Miser), Kobry Al-Namoos (Mosquito Bridge) and Sikkat Al-Salama (The Right Way). Her most recent roles include those in the television series El-Tawoos (2021), Agaz Maftouha (2021), Sukkar Zeyada (2020), Awraq El Toot (2015), films Teta Rahiba (2012), Al-Leila Al-Kebira (2015), Sanaa’s Tale, a 2016 documentary, and a number of theatre plays including Almaz and Si Abdo (2021).
Apart from her acting career, Ayoub has been also director of the Modern Theatre (1972-1975) and of the National Theatre (1975-1985). In June 2015, she received the Nile Award in the Arts, claiming a gold medal and EGP 400,000, the largest prize of the State Awards granted to three people, with one going to the arts.
Dawara’s book is among the most recent publications about the great actress.
In 2016, the Writers and Critics Association released The Charming Woman: A Vocation of Creativity, Ayoub’s biography written by journalist Sayed Mahmoud.
The 6th edition of the Sharm El Sheikh International Theatre Festival for Youth opened on 6 November and continues until 11 November.
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