The Arab Theatre Festival (7th Session)

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The Seventh Arab Theatre Festival was marked by the organization of cultural activities of various types. One of the most important elements was the presentation of about seventy plays, of which seven dramas competed for the prize of Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, rewarding the best Arab theatrical show of the year 2014. The tradition of presenting such an award was established as an attempt to keep the Arab theatre active and encourage Arab dramaturgy to carry on updating itself, contemplating, and reflecting upon some of the most prevalent current issues. Moreover, the Festival held the largest scientific conference ever in the domain of theatre and performance studies organized in the Arab world. Six panels of various research topics were enriched by discussions led by some of the most prominent figures in Arab theatre and performance studies. The festival honored twenty-two Arab artists and organized workshops, training for the benefit of theater amateurs, animating workshops dedicated to children, and allotted, next to the Festival’s Book Fair, a large space to signatures (book launches) of new theatrical releases. This last activity, together with press conferences related to competing plays, was organized inside the Mohamed V Theatre.

In contrast to previous Festivals, this “most important Arab theatre event,”[4] as Khalid Amine named it in a dialogue with the press, seized the opportunity of being in Morocco and celebrated its seventh anniversary by inviting scholars representing the West and allowing a considerable space for the discussion of the concept of “interwoven performance cultures.” One panel among six,[5] was dedicated to the discussion of the theme: “Dialogue between North and South: Interweaving Cultures in Performance.” Participants in this Forum were Prof. Erika Fischer-Lichte,[6] Prof. Stephen Barber,[7] and Prof Khalid Amine[8] (Chair of the panel).  They approached the idea of theatre from an interwoven performance cultures point of view. They sought to introduce the idea of “the interwoven” to Arab theatre and performance studies researchers and specialists. They, as scholars concerned with “interweaving” as a cultural process affecting the field of theatre and performance arts, defined, disclosed, and revealed the hidden mechanisms underlying the history, use, and view of this concept in the world of performance cultures.

Prof. Khalid Amine, through a guiding introduction to the theme of “interweaving” and some of its implied desires and dreams, tried to bridge East and West cultural spaces in the field of performance studies by giving a synoptic idea about what interwoven cultures in a performance arts project could stand for and could mean to the future. He provided his own reading of the hybrid and interwoven reality performance cultures are undergoing in a multicultural world where the history of cultures is fundamentally becoming more and more reflective of this processes. He initiated a heated discussion by making this statement:

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