Life in Tahrir Square, everywhere...

Doaa Hamza, Wednesday 2 Mar 2011

Tahrir Square continues to play an important role in post-revolutionary art life. In parallel, many cultural centres have resumed their regular activities


Al Tahrir Square witnessed a state of creativity where numerous artistic trends evolved, when all the cultural centres in Cairo were closed. Only a few days ago these centres, especially those privately-owned, resumed their artistic activities with a special programme that adopts the essence of the revolution.  Protests, songs and numerous stories from the heart of Tahrir, are all displayed in the form of story-telling, plays and independent music scenes.

Despite the fact that Al-Hanager theatre is still undergoing restoration, independent artists decided to hold five days of performances with one theme: ”Nights in the Square” as a tribute to Tahrir Square and all the martyrs.

On 21 and 22 February there was a performance by the Soue Tafahom band, (the Misunderstanding band) and the Al Tami band performed with their "Utopia" choir under the slogan, “The people want the life of the square and liberty”.

The Sabil art troupe showcased a documentary entitled “Tales of Al Tahrir” where they presented the activities of protesters during the revolution. This is part of a larger project that aims to document the testimonies of people during the revolution and compile them in a book of the same title.

On 24 February, the Nas, Halwasa and Leilat Haki troupes performed respectively in front of Al Hanager, inspired from the nights of the revolution. However, the nights at Al-Hanager came to an end to resume the restoration process, and also because of the protests of many artists that detest the appointment of the new minister of culture Mohammed El Sawy,  and are calling for the resignation of Shafiq, the present minister of the cabinet.

On another level, El Sawy Culturewheel resumed its scheduled monthly programme. However most of the bands adopted the revolutionary theme in their performances.

On 25 February the Riff band performed while dressed in the colours of the Egyptian flag. Songs from the Beatles, Nora Joans and Micheal Babel followed the brief introduction by Mohammed El Sawy, owner of El Sakia and the current minister of culture.

On 25 February, the Eskenderella band started their performance with an introduction in which they emphasised their full support for the Egyptian revolution.  They will continue with the same songs they created and sung with the people during the protests in Tahrir, until all the people’s demands are fulfilled, including the toppling of Shafiq’s illegitimate government.

The troupe was presented this time by poet Zein El Abedeen Fouad, instead of Mohammed El Sawy. Fouad is one of Egypt’s renowned poets, whose lyrics, such as Ethamao El Oshaq, (The Lovers were Gathered) and Al Falaheen (The Peasants) were chanted by Sheikh Emam.

They started with Fouad Haddad’s famous lyrics “Khalik Faker Masr Gamila”, (Always Remember Egypt is Beautiful), then swayed between Rageen (Coming back) by poet Amin Haddad and the first song they composed and chanted during the revolution and favourite Sheikh Imam old-timers such as Etgamaao El Oshaq, (Lovers Gathered), Ya Masr Omi w Shedi El Heil, (O Egypt Rise and Shine), and Said Darwish’s El Kotra (Quantity).

Safha Gedida(A new page) by poet Ahmed Haddad was one of the hits of the show. However they dedicated the second part of their back-to-back concerts to the Egyptian martyrs. Akhdar ya teir el ganna (Green, is the bird of heaven) by poet Fouad Haddad and Bedayet Sana (Beginning of a New Year) by poet Ahmed Haddad was dedicated to the martyrs of the bombing of the Alexandria church on New Year's Eve.

Not far from the enthusiastic air of Eskenderella, came the El Tanboura folk troupe with its authentic folk songs. At the premises of Al Mastaba culture centre in Abdeen on 24 February, Al Tanboura chanted the victorious tunes played on al semsemya, (an ancient musical instrument).

There were new songs inspired by the revolution, which they had played in Tahrir, as well as the classic patriotic chants of people’s resistance such as “Yab biout el Sewis”, (O houses of Suez) by poet Abdel Rahman El Abnoudi, as well as “Fi Port Said El Watania” (Amidst patriotic Port Said). Al Tanboura will resume their weekly concerts at Al Mastaba cultural centre every Thursday.

The Al Warsha troupe has resumed its activities and will begin its first performance on Thursday 3 March.

As for the activities affiliated with the ministry of culture, some of them will resume during the month of March with Al Beit El Fani Lel Masrah, starting on Thursday 3 March, at the Miami theatre, with Layali Al Thawra, (Revolution Nights) which will include testimonies, poetry reading and songs by Ahmed Saad, Simone, Azza Balbaa, Kamla Abu Zekri, and Noha el Amrousy, Ahmed Eid and director Nasser Abdel Moniem the man behind the idea, respectively. The performances will tour Alexandria and Suez, among other governorates.

 A special exhibition of the works of martyr Ahmed Bassiouni will be organised as part of the festivities.

The Cultural Development Fund activities will resume on a limited scale. A cultural saloon to discuss the cultural economic and political reforms post-revolution will be held at the Prince Taz palace in March.

Beit El Sehehmi is hosting a performance by Aragouz entitled Ali El Zeibaq, and the Creative artistic theatre will stage a play starting Thursday 10 March entitled “Habayeb Misr” (Egypt Lovers)

All cultural centres in Egypt, in various artistic forms are echoing the same revolutionary demands: our right to freedom.


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