28th Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre (CIFET) concluded on Sunday after a special edition that presented a German play and an international exhibition.
The 2020 edition of the festival could not accommodate the exhibition due to pandemic and it is finally this year that the CIFET’s 28th edition was able to embrace this initiative.
During the opening ceremony, Egypt’s Culture Minister Inas Abdel Dayem asserted the importance of experimental theatre to present theatrical forms that keep pace with the rapid development in all forms of life.
The event was followed by the festival’s management and troupes moving to the Balloon Theatre where the play ‘Deals with God’ which was performed by a German Troupe, was staged to a large audience.
The exhibition hosted large photographs in addition to a few stage-design physical components, all presenting works that shed light on set, light, and costume designers’ contributions to their local and international theatre movements.
Member of the festival’s Supreme Committee Hazem Shebl, said that this is the first such event taking place in Cairo. The exhibition presents scenography from 20 countries around the world.
The selection of 56 designs was chosen from a total of 106 theatres submitting their works. The final works were chosen by a committee headed by Shebl and other renowned theatre practitioners: AmrAbdalla and Mohamed Saad.
Works from Egypt, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Hungary, Lebanon, Palestine, Japan, Brazil, and other countries testified to the numerous visual approaches to texts and movement, as expressed by their creator’s skills.
Some set and light designs present plays based on international classical texts, from Shakespeare to Jean Cocteau, while others serve the performances that capitalise on local literary gems or ideas emerging from the theatre makers’ minds.
With a great collection of works and photographs coming from all around the world, this year’s exhibition is an opportunity to explore the many fruits of this unique art form which undeniably serves as an important pillar of theatre.
The festival did not hold the exhibition last year due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The festival has also launched a new initiative Experimental Theatre Club competition which aims to shed light on experimental theatre practices outside Cairo.
The competition comprises nine performances with troupes performing in Minya, Beni Suef, Damietta, Kafr El Shukr, Wadi El Natrou, Port Said as well as Cairo’s Sayed Darwish theatre and at the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts.
The evening also included presentation of this year festival’s activities, plays participating in the official competition and on the event’s margins, jury, and honorees.
2021’s edition honors Egyptian directors Essam El-Sayed and Hassan El Geretly, as well as Khalid Al-Tarifi from Jordan, Naji Al-Hay from the UAE and scenographer and costume designer Jean-Guy Lecat from France.
A total of 285 performances, 118 from Egypt and 167 from international troupes, have been submitted to the festival this year.
The committee has chosen 14 international performances to take part in the competition, including two from Egypt, to be performed across Cairo stages.
The CIFET has also presented a number of seminars alongside publications tackling the theatrical movement in Egypt and the region.