Ukrainian play 'Caligula' scoops three major awards at CIFET, Kuwait wins best actress

Ahram Online , Monday 20 Dec 2021

The Ukranian play based on Albert Camus’ ‘Caligula’ won the main prize for best performance, as well as the best director and best actor awards at the 28th edition of the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre (CIFET), which closed yesterday at the Cairo Opera House.


The play was produced by the Kharkiv State Academic Ukranian Drama Theatre and directed by Kovshun Oleksandr. 

In the hands of the Ukrainian troupe, the play capitalises on elements of absurdity and insanity, setting the characters in a psych ward.

Oleksandr infused Camus’s text with a lot of ironic and deranged scenes, creating a skewed reality, a tragic world that is more psychotic than it is terrifying, while the protagonist — a blood thirsty emperor — becomes a symbol of madness embedded in power, weakness, ambition, and lethargy.

Surrounded by maniacs, Caligula’s nonsense, distorted perceptions, and behaviours are treated by the director in a highly artistic level, making the protagonist a subject of the audience’s sympathy on numerous occasions in the play. 

Other awards presented during the closing ceremony included the best actress award that was given to Kuwaiti actress Hala Omran for her role in ‘I Medea’, which was directed by Sulayman Al-Bassam. The best scenography award went to ‘The Last Comedy’, a play from the United Arab Emirates that was directed by Mohannad Ibrahim; and the best dancer award was given to a performer from ‘Deals with God’, a German play produced and directed by Julia Maria Koch.

The main prize for the best performance award amounts to LE 500,000, while the other five awards — best director, actor, actress, scenography, and dancer — amount to LE 100,000 each.

It is worth adding that in its 28th edition, the festival departed from its years-long tradition of giving awards for specific theatrical components.

Until the 27th edition, the festival had always offered prizes for the best play, director, actor, actress, and scenography. This year, the festival’s president, Gamal Yakout, decided to have a main award for best performance and allow the jury to decide on five other awards that could be distributed to components that the jury finds exceptional.

The closing ceremony also announced the winner of the Experimental Theatre Club, an initiative including Egyptian performances produced by troupes in numerous governorates. The award worth LE 30,000 was divided on two winners: ‘The Mask’, a play from Port Said that was directed by Mohamed El-Ashry; and ‘Still Here’, which was directed by Ramy Mohamed Korany and staged by the actors of the Beni Suef Cultural Palace.

The 28th edition of the CIFET ran between 14 and 19 December.

During the closing ceremony, Yakout revaled that the event’s 29th edition will be held between 1 and 10 September 2022 and, as such, the CIFET will return to its regular timing in the year.

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