Despite the grim political atmosphere in the region, the Arab Theater Festival is bringing some cheer in Egypt. Hosted by the Egyptian Society for Amateur Theatre, the festival is using the recent unrest as its theme for its ninth year of production.
“The plays demonstrate the struggles of the Arab world, both internal and external,” said Dr. Amro Dwar, festival director and organizer.
The political changes taking place in the Arab world weren’t only used as a means to promote the festival, but it was at the crux of the subjects of the performances. The Arab region stands on a precipice of a new phase, and its starting point is the dramatic arts. Many of the productions were devoid of censorship that was once evident as a result of new opportunities that allow people to express themselves freely, without fear.
“Some of the scripts have become bolder in their content and there is no longer the fear or paranoia of censorship,” said Sabry Abdel Mun’em, an Egyptian artist, and an honored guest at the festival. “We are not presenting a speech, we’re presenting written art and creative scripts to both entertain and address issues as they are.”
“I hope to more see plays that demand attention; plays that provide insight and perspective, and reflect important issues relevant to the Arab world,” said Watfa Hamada, a Lebanese theater critic.
As the youth has been a central focus of recent revolutions in the region, participating artists expect future content and form of Arab theatre to reflect the new phenomena.
“If stage can’t keep up with changes and advancements, then authenticity becomes non-existent,” said Talib al-Bloushi, an Omani artist. “The stage is a mirror, reflection for all aspects and issues in life, past, present, and future.”
(Samar Bashat of Al Arabiya can be reached at: email@example.com. Noora Faraj, also of Al Arabiya, translated this article from Arabic. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)