So much to see, so little time: Egypt's culture picks of the week 11-18 May

Published May 11th, 2014 - 08:14 GMT
Ballet Mimbipa from Paraguay will be performing at the Cairo Opera House this week. (Image: Facebook)
Ballet Mimbipa from Paraguay will be performing at the Cairo Opera House this week. (Image: Facebook)

The Spring Festival continues this week, bringing sounds of Africa and the region to Cairo audiences. The week also includes film screenings, exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, opera and more.

Sunday 11 May

This Is Not a Film at Falaki Theatre at 7.30pm

As part of its programme this year, the Red Zone arts festival -- hosted by Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy’s Spring Festival in Cairo -- will be screening Jafar Panahi's acclaimed documentary This Is Not a Film on Sunday 11 May in downtown Cairo’s Falaki Theatre. In this non-film, the following elements are absent: screenplay, actors, crew, lighting effects, and music. What we do see is a director facing a six-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban on filmmaking, under house arrest, nervously contemplating the looming result of his appeal to court. See Ahram Online’s review of the film here, or watch the trailer below.

24 Falaki Street, Downtown Cairo

Selem Ela Demeshq (“Ladder to Damascus”) at Odeon cinema at 8pm

A rich retrospective of films by Syrian director Mohamed Malas is taking place in Cairo this month. It is the first large-scale event organised by Zawya, which was launched two months ago. Four films - Dreams of the City, The Night, Passion and Ladder to Damascus – will be screened at Zawya's permanent venue, the newly-renovated Odeon Cinema in downtown Cairo.

Born in 1945, Mohammad Malas is a prominent Syrian filmmaker whose cinematic wealth includes documentary and feature films, many of which have garnered him local and international acclaim. Malas's more recent 2013 drama Selem Ela Demeshq (“Ladder to Damascus”), 2013, will be screened on Sunday.

4 Dr Abdel Hameed Street - off Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo

Conte Dansé (A Tale in Dance) at the French Institute of Egypt in Alexandria

Annual dance programme Nessim El-Raqs (“The Dance Breeze”) organised by Centre Rezodanse Egypte brings several contemporary dance performances to various public spaces in Alexandria between 5 and 11 May. Challenging the limitedness of performing space in Egypt's seaside city, and presenting a form of arts people on the street are not used to seeing, Nessim El-Raqs has been around since 2007.

Garden of the French Institute of Egypt in Alexandria, Nabi Daniel Street, El-Raml Station

Once… A Beautiful Egypt: Amina El-Demirdash at Zamalek Art Gallery

The exhibition features work by Amina El-Demirdash, an emerging Egyptian painter, born in 1986. In her artwork, El-Demirdash often reaches to themes representing Egyptian villages, towns and landscapes. In this exhibition, the artist was inspired by a collection of vintage family photographs dating back to first half of the 20th century. The collection is infused with a sense of nostalgia as El-Demirdash captures the people and places during Egypt’s “belle époque.” The exhibition runs until 14 May.

11 Brazil Street, Zamalek, Cairo

Also on this day:
- Opera Tosca at the Cairo Opera at 8pm. See 12 May listings for more details.

 

Monday 12 May

Last evening of the opera Tosca at the Cairo Opera House at 8pm

In May 1889, Puccini attended Sardou’s play La Tosca and, fascinated by its plot, he wrote: “In this Tosca I see the opera that exactly suits me, one without excessive proportions, one that is a decorative spectacle, that gives opportunity for an abundance of music.”

A decade later, with a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, Tosca premiered at Teatro Constanzi in Rome. Today, Tosca is one of the most popular operas, and a staple of repertoires around the world. It is also a frequently returning opera to the Cairo Opera House’s stage. The production is directed by Abdalla Saad and performed by the Cairo Opera Company, the Cairo Opera Orchestra conducted by David Crescenci, the Cairo Opera Choir, and the Talents Development Centre’s Children Choir. There will be performances on 8, 9, 11 and 12 May. See the trailer for the Cairo Opera Company’s Tosca below.

Main Hall, Cairo Opera House, Zamalek, Cairo

Red Zone Festival visual arts at Hotel Viennoise at 8pm

The Norwegian Red Zone Festival, hosted within the ongoing Spring Festival, will put on an exhibition by two visual artists in Hotel Viennoise -- Fictional Museum by Said Balbaki (Lebanon) and Photos from the Square by Heba Khalefa (Egypt). Balbaki presents installations which challenge the credibility of museums as proper sites for artifacts and which comment on the shattered unity of Lebanon after the civil war. On the other hand Khalefa, a photojournalist for Al-Shorouk newspaper, uses a combination of painting and collage to visually draw comparisons between Egypt’s revolution and ancient history.

11 Mahmoud Bassiouny Street, Downtown Cairo

Iphones in Blogs: New works by Mohamed Taha Hussein at Gezira Art Centre

New works by Egyptian sculptor and painter Mohamed Taha Hussein (b. 1929) will be featured in a solo show dubbed Iphones in Blogs, opening at the Gezira Art Centre on 7 May. Head of the Fine Arts Sector Salah El-Meligy said in a press release that "this exhibition is one of the most important shows organised by the sector this year due to the influence, value and prominence of visual artist Taha Hussein.” According to El-Meligy, this exhibition will feature works "that [document] the artist's spontaneous and constant interaction with key events that have unfolded in Egypt throughout the past three years, and that reveal to us his reaction to such events as an Egyptian artist and intellectual." The exhibition runs until 28 May.

Ahmed Sabry Hall, Gezira Art Centre, 1 Al-Sheikh Al-Marsafy Street, Zamalek

Last Days of Toys: Hany Rashed at Mashrabia

Hany Rashed presents his latest collection of artwork in what will be his ninth solo exhibit at the Mashrabia gallery in downtown Cairo. In Toys, the artist explores the idea that human beings in contemporary society exist with a freedom that is limited by constraints and therefore resemble toys. Rashed presents a world of plastic objects in this exhibition, paradoxically responding to contemporary reality through creating inanimate toys. The exhibition runs until 15 May.

8 Champollion Street, Downtown Cairo

 

Tuesday 13 May

DIJIT aka Hashem L Kelesh concert in Vent

Visual artist and electronic musician Hashem L Kelesh, known as DIJIT when he produces music, presents a performance which uses noise to confront the audience with the environment they live in. "We are not about making delightful music or even making sense, but rather providing people with noise that reflects the community we live in. Needless to say, I get very little sleep,” he says. Check out DIJIT on Sound Cloud below.

10pm, 6 Kasr El Nil Street, Downtown, Cairo

A Guest Without a Host is a Ghost: Collective show at Beirut, CIC and Townhouse

A Guest Without A Host Is A Ghost is a year-long visual arts project that brings 30 artworks from the Kadist Art Foundation (Paris and San Francisco) to Egypt. Described by Beirut gallery as a "temporary guest to the city," this miniature collection will appear in various shows and events across Cairo.

An exhibition spread out across three venues, the Contemporary Image Collective (CIC), Townhouse and Beirut will kick off the project on 6 and 7 May, featuring works by artists with international acclaim, some of them making their Egyptian debuts. The exhibition opens 6 May at Beirut and 7 May at the Contemporary Image Collective and Townhouse Gallery, until 18 June.

No. 11 Road 12, Mahmoud Sedky, off Shaheen Street, Agouza, Cairo

 

Wednesday 14 May

Book signing with Adel Iskandar at Al-Kotob Khan

Egyptian writer Adel Iskandar will be signing his book titled Egypt in Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution (The American University in Cairo Press, 2013). The book is a “collection of standalone articles composed at various junctures in the tumultuous life of revolutionary Egypt. As events unfolded, [the author’s] modest musings served as a means of reflecting, at least for personal contemplation, about the outrageous contradictions that had become an endemic part of contemporary politics and life in Egypt,” Iskandar revealed in an interview conducted with him by Jadaliyya, back in August 2013.

6pm, 3/1 El Lasilky Road, Cairo

I Am Now Dead at Falaki Theatre

Al-Saa’a theatre troupe will be performing their award-winning play I Am Now Dead on three consecutive nights, from 14 to 16 May, at the Falaki Theatre in Cairo. The play is written and directed by Hani Afifi and co-written by Bassem Sharaf. The cast includes Emad Ismail, Yehya Yousry, Menna Hamdy, Mohamed El-Shafei and Amr Gamal, along with flutist Fadwa Merkhan. I Am Now Dead is the recipient of several awards, including best play, best director and best actor at the third edition of the Jeunes Createurs festival in 2005, and the Special Jury Prize at the National Festival for Egyptian Theatre in 2006.

8pm, Falaki Theatre, AUC Tahrir campus, Downtown Cairo

Ballet Mimbipa at Cairo Opera

Ballet troupe Mimbipa will bring the cultural flavour of Paraguay to Cairo audiences for two evenings, 14 and 16 May. The performance is organised in cooperation with the Paraguayan embassy in Cairo as part of the country’s celebrations of a national day which falls on 15 May. On that day in 1811, Paraguay overthrew the Spanish administration. Check out a fragment from the 2013 performance by Mimbipa below.

8pm, Main Hall, Cairo Opera House, Zamalek, Cairo

Last days of Hydrogen: American University in Cairo student exhibition at Sharjah Art Gallery

Curated by visual artist and professor Shady Elnoshokaty, Hydrogen is the 2014 senior student exhibition of the American University in Cairo's visual cultures programme. The show features 17 projects created over a year-long process of research and production by the showcased students, including Miral Abdel-Moneim, Habiba Allam, Ines Alexandra El-Sayed El-Laban, Zeina Asfour, Mondow Ayoub, Marwa Benhalim, Samar El-Abbasy, Leila El-Eshe, Tuqa El-Harouny, Salma El-Shaffei, Doaa Gamil, Ingy Helmy, Samar Khaled, Ayette Meligy, Salma Osama, Nour Rashad and Alyaa Sadek. The exhibition runs until 15 May.

Sharjah Art Gallery, AUC campus, New Cairo

 

Thursday 15 May

Badiaa Bouhrizi concert in El-Genaina Theatre at 8pm

Tunisian singer and musician Badiaa Bouhrizi developed her own style of music which she names Neyssatou, the new sound of North Africa. It is an expression of authentic music, neither traditional folklore nor artificial fusion. Bouhrizi draws inspiration from African music, reggae, classical Arabic music, jazz and Amazigh influences. The event is part of Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy’s Spring Festival. See the Spring Festival’s complete programme here, or listen to one of Bouhrizi's songs below.

El-Genaina Theatre, Al-Azhar Park, Salah Salem Road, Darassa

Last Days of Legend: Reda Abdel-Rahman at Gallery Misr

Reda Abdel-Rahman exhibits this month at Gallery Misr. Abdel-Rahman was born in the city of Ismailia in 1966, and has been passionate about art since the tender age of six. His practice ranges from large-scale murals to sculpture and paintings, which he mostly produces in his studio located on Dahab Island in the Nile. The artist is heavily influenced by ancient Egyptian art, and his oeuvre consistently features figurative painting and portraiture, often drenched in symbolism. In this exhibition, Abdel-Rahman reinterprets local and international folk tales and legends. The exhibition runs until 18 May.

4a Ibn Zanki Street, Zamalek, Cairo

Also on this day:
- I Am Now Dead play at Falaki Theatre at 8pm (See Wednesday 14 May for more details)

 

Friday 16 May

Last performance of ballet Mimbipa at Cairo Opera House

Ballet troupe Mimbipa will bring the cultural flavour of Paraguay to Cairo audiences for two evenings, 14 and 16 May. The performance is organised in cooperation with the Paraguayan embassy in Cairo as part of the country’s celebrations of a national day which falls on 15 May. On that day in 1811, Paraguay overthrew the Spanish administration. Check out a fragment from the 2013 performance by Mimbipa below.

8pm, Main Hall, Cairo Opera House, Zamalek, Cairo

 


Saturday 17 May

Sobhi and Friends at the Cairo Opera House at 8pm

Sobhi and friends sees pop performances by Sadek Gallini, Nayer Nagui on piano, and Sobhi Bidair providing vocals.

Bidair has a long and fascinating history. He started singing when still in school. Soon after (alongside Omar Khairat, Omar Khorshed, Hany Meimary, Wagdy Francis, and Ezzat Abu Ouf), he joined the band Les Petits Chats, one of the most acclaimed bands in the history of Egyptian pop music. Touring with Les Petits Chats, Bedair’s career as a pop singer flourished. He joined the Cairo Conservatory where he completed three academic years in just one year and while there, at the age of 26, he played his operatic first role, Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. This was only the beginning of an equally interesting operatic career. At the beginning of 1990s, once back in Cairo, Bidair was appointed director of the Cairo Opera Company, a post he has held more than once. Italy also decorated Bedair with the title of Cavaliere. Listen to one of the songs performed by Sobhi and Friends below.

Small Hall, Cairo Opera House, Zamalek, Cairo

Concert by Oliver Mtukudzi at El-Genaina Theatre

Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe will perform his compositions which call for restraint, tolerance and peace between the people of the world.  His lyrics speak against hatred and violence. Mtukudzi musical career started at the age of 23 with the 1975 release of his debut single, and has now released over 60 albums. He has been on several tours in the UK, US and Canada to perform for large audiences. He received the National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA), the highest in Zimbabwe, seven times. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador. The event is part of Culture Resource's Spring Festival. Check the Spring Festival complete programme here.

8pm, El-Genaina Theatre, Al-Azhar Park, Salah Salem Road, Darassa

Last days of Silenced: Mohamed Monaiseer at Safarkhan Art Gallery

Emerging artist Mohamed Monaiseer holds his first solo exhibition at the Safarkhan Art Gallery. Monaiseer presents a series of artworks submerged in almost illegible calligraphy, penned on natural fabrics in mixed media, including ink and chemicals. "What he has created is calligraphy that cannot be decoded, leading to a paradox, for what you see are words, but words that cannot be read or decrypted. Therefore, they can only be taken in through one's soul rather than one's mental concept in order to experience the essence of this project," reads the curatorial statement. The exhibition runs until 21 May.

6 Brazil Street, Zamalek, Cairo

Also on this day:
- I Am Now Dead play at Falaki Theatre at 8pm (See Wednesday 14 May for more details)

 

Sunday 18 May

Nawal at El-Genaina Theatre

Singer and songwriter Nawal, who comes from the Comoros, was born into a family of many musicians, and surrounded by both popular and spiritual music from a young age. Now living in France, she is known “the voice of the Comoros.” Her music draws on traditional Comorian influences and incorporates sounds from African and Arabic culture. Nawal has self-produced both her albums, and has toured in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and central Asia. The event is part of Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy’s Spring Festival. See the Spring Festival’s complete programme here, or listen to Nawal below.

8pm, El-Genaina Theatre, Al-Azhar Park, Salah Salem Road, Darassa

Sweet Dreams: Amre Heiba at GIZ

In this exhibition at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) office in Zamalek, oil paintings from different stages of Amre Heiba's career will be displayed all summer. In this collection, the themes that typically characterise Amre Heiba will reappear, including childhood, solitude and romance. The exhibition runs until 31 August.

4d, El-Gezira Street, Zamalek, Cairo


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