What to expect of CIFET 2004
By Nehad Selaiha
The 16th Cairo International Festival of Experimental Theatre (CIFET) opened last Monday at the main hall of the Opera House. After a brief musical overture Farouk Hosni, the minister of culture, introduced to the audience the head of the 11- member international jury, Gilbert Neil Lazier (USA), and his colleagues: Arthur Sonnen (The Netherlands), Parasuram Ramamoorthi (India), Tadashi Uchino (Japan), Richard Demarcy (France), Shen, Lin (China), Clovis Levi da Silva (Brazil), Marie- Andrée Brautt (Canada), Manuela Kustermann (Italy), Mohamed Bin Kattaf (Algeria) and Ahmed Fouad Selim (Egypt). The performance chosen for the opening, the Eoliharpe company's La Partie du Dedans, came from France and featured a female sculptor at work in her cluttered studio.
Earlier, at a press conference held in the Supreme Council for Culture, Farouk Hosni had announced the two Egyptian productions nominated for the competition -- Al-Hanager's Echo, created and directed by Mohamed Shafiq, and the Creativity Centre Studio's Forced Landing, conceived and directed by Khalid Galal (both reviewed on this page last week). He also announced the names of the 12 personalities to be honored this year -- Amina Rashid (Morocco), Irving Wardle (UK), Piotr Dabrawski (Poland), Piero Maccarinelli (Italy), Joan Schirle (USA), Khaled Al-Mubarak (Sudan), Danielle Chinsky (France), Sakina Makeo (Algeria), Omar Al-Hariri (Egypt), Wolfgang Greisenegger (Austria), Mohsen Al- Azzawi (Iraq) and Willem van Gansbeke (Belgium).
Of the shows likely to stir a lot of interest are the American Karima's City, from the Golden Thread Productions, based on a story by Egyptian writer Salwa Bakr, and the Turkish Darwish on the Train, based on Tawfiq El-Hakim's O, Tree-Climber. Heiner Muller's Medea Material ( Slovenia), Ionesco's Chairs ( Romania), Alfred Jarry's Ubu (Slovakia), the Greek Prometheus Bound, Bosnia and Herzegovina's Antigone, The Story of Theseus and Ariadne (Serbia and Montenegro) and Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona from Poland are likely to be popular if only because they tread familiar grounds. The more adventurous can cast their nets wider and sample at least the Dutch Se Dice de Mi and Bambie 8, Lebanon's Romeo and Two Juliets, the Iraqi Sorry Sir, I Didn't Mean It, Bahrain's Virgins and Syria's The Hardest of All Times.
Apart from Echo and Forced Landing, of the 26 Egyptian productions on offer, Walid Aouni's Clara and the Moving Sands is well worth seeing and so are the AUC's two productions: Naomi Wallace's The Retreating World, directed by Laila Soliman and Compilation Impulse, written and directed by Ramsi Lehner. Have fun.