CirCairo to spread joy this autumn

Sara Elkamel, Tuesday 2 Oct 2012

“We are here to lighten the atmosphere and paint a smile on the faces of everyone in Egypt,” CirCairo festival manager Ashraf Kenawy tells Ahram Online

CirCairo 2012 will feature Egyptian and international troupes. Photo: Morosof from France

The Cairo International Circus Festival revives the playful spirit in Cairo, Mansoura and Menoufiya with a range of shows, workshops and public talks in October.

On Thursday 4 October, Culture Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafy) launches its second edition of CirCairo, the Cairo International Circus Festival. The first edition took place in 2010 and was limited to a small number of troupes performing in Cairo. This time, Al Mawred expands the initiative and presents performances by Egyptian and international circus troupes. The festival will end on Saturday 20 October with a ceremony at the main entrance of Al-Azhar Park.

Festival manager Ashraf Kenawy explains that the festival shines the spotlight on the personal skills of performers, rather than showcasing animals or high-tech props often used in global circus repertoires.

CirCairo 2010 took place before the Egypt Revolution unfolded, bringing hope as well as severe and at times fatal conflict among Egyptians. “What is important about the timing of this festival is that it comes at a time where there is a lot of tension on the streets,” explains Kenawy. “This year, we are here to lighten up the atmosphere and paint a smile on the faces of everyone in Egypt.”

 “We decided that all activities would be free of charge, so that we can reach people who cannot otherwise afford to participate in cultural events,” Ashraf Kenawy added.

With notable enthusiasm, Kenawy says that there is a very important matter that distinguishes CirCairo 2012 from its previous edition two years ago: “In 2012, CirCairo was held in Cairo only. But this year, we picked other governorates that don’t usually witness cultural events to host some of the festival’s performances.”

The choice of venues reflects a determination to reach the man on the street and several performances will be held in public spaces.  “We want to reach the greatest number of people possible,” says Kenawy.

With a determination to revive the spirit of entertainment associated with the circus, CirCairo shows are tailored for all audiences, including performances at El-Genaina Theatre, the Jesuits Cultural Centre and the Falaky Theatre, along with public open-air spaces, such as Abdeen Square, the entrance of Al-Azhar Park, Shagaret El-Dorr Park in Mansoura, and Shebin El-Kom Stadium in Menoufeyya.

The organisers are planning an extravagant opening for the festival on 4 October at Abdeen Square in Cairo. The show will feature six performances by M Circus (Belgium), Radwan Shelbawy (Tunisia), the Amsterdam Rebel Clown Army "Rebelact," National Egyptian Circus, Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Arts School, and the Kosha Puppet Team (Egypt).

The celebration will start with two performances by the Darb Al-Ahmar Arts School and the National Egyptian Circus, and will be followed by a 40-minute performance by M Circus. The Tunisian Radwan Shelbawy will also present his acrobatic show "Take my Hand."

Rebel Clowns from Amsterdam and Kusha Puppet Team, will also take part in the opening ceremony, as well as performing in Mansoura, on Saturday 6 October.  They will march through the streets around Abdeen Square 30 minutes before the start of the opening ceremony, inviting people to their interactive show.

'Rebel Clown’ has a peculiar history entwined with challenging the authorities. The group blends the ancient art of clowning with interactive street performance. Their daring performances and creative costumes often blatantly ridicule policemen, businessmen and the hierarchal system at large.

The group first appeared in November 2003, when US-president George Bush was invited to visit the British Queen in London. They went to Buckingham Palace with cardboard cannons firing pink pretzels. Rebelact is the offshoot of the Rebel Clown Army in the Netherlands. The group started in 2007 and has made 60 performances in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Ashraf Kenawy explains that, “The appearance of political circus in Egypt is unprecedented.”

The second week of CirCairo will feature an exciting line-up of European performers. Fire Birds and Goldi Circus (Hungary) and MultiSirkus (Denmark) will perform at El-Genaina Theatre on Thursday 11 October, with a subsequent performance on Saturday 13 October at El-Gomhoria Sporting Club in Shebin El-Kom, Menoufeyya.

During CirCairo’s third week, Cairo audiences will be offered new performances by local and European performers: BashStreet Circus (UK), Roikkuva (Switzerland), Head Feed Hands (Germany), Outa Hamra (Egypt), and Balagans (Spain).


Ahram Online is a media sponsor of CirCairo 2012

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