Blustering Culture Festival Kicks off in Lebanon

Published September 9th, 2018 - 10:22 GMT
Masrah al-Madina Festival (Twitter)
Masrah al-Madina Festival (Twitter)

Over five days, the eighth edition of the Mishkal Festival, which commenced at Masrah al-Madina Friday, promises to stage an eclectic mix of performances, film screenings exhibitions and talks.

Starting at 5 p.m. daily, the theater will showcase eight to 10 events, ranging from live music to African drum workshops.

Founded in 2010, the festival seeks to target youth engagement through art to provide opportunities for students, and to make the arts accessible to as many people as possible.

“We at Masrah al-Madina wanted to have a long-standing cultural hub in the city with students and to provide access for the city to see quality shows and events,” Masrah al-Madina founder Nidal Ashkar told The Daily Star. “Our festival gives people the opportunity to say what they want to say. There aren’t many platforms given to students or new graduates in the city to express themselves,” she added, “and it’s also cheap – only LL5,000 for the whole day – [making it] accessible to many.”


This year’s program is arranged under the theme “Bida Nafda,” (A Change is Needed) and many of the events touch on the country’s political and environmental issues.

“[We decided on] the theme of ‘Bida Nafda’ because we really need to clear and air out all the country’s corruption, [social] problems and the like and remake ourselves, reset out standards so we can progress,” festival director Awad Awad told the Daily Star. “A lot of the shows and events touch on these ideas.”

“Mamlakat al-Jaradeen,” (Kingdom of Rats), the play Awad directed to open this year’s festival, explores these topics.

“It’s about a group of people who decide they cannot live in the world anymore, with all the garbage, pollution and environmental issues,” Awad said, “so they decide to become rats, since rats thrive on these conditions and can live happily.

“The actors are a mix of amateur actors and students who came for a two-week intensive workshop where we created the play together and made the roles depending on how many people we had,” he said. “The workshop covered everything – writing, drama, directing, different acting styles – to give them a complete overview.”

The 2018 edition of Mishkal has also grown with new sections devoted to dance, stand-up comedy and drag shows.

“We have lots of new and rich things this year,” Ashkar said. “We have a large variety of workshops on dance, film, acting, theater etc.”

“We also have two important roundtables touching on timely issues in the country or region,” Awad elaborated. “One is on the garbage crisis in Lebanon and about how we can recycle or reuse products. The other is about boycotting Israel in the arts and about participating in events performed by Israeli artists verses artists performing in Israel, which has become very controversial lately.”

Mishkal Festival will take place at Masrah al-Madina, Hamra, through Sept. 11. Events are staged 5-11 p.m. For more, see.


This article has been adapted from its original source.

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