On 5 and 6 November, the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF)'s Arab Arts Focus (AAF) program will unveil the highly anticipated Theater in Translation project, one new media exhibition, and a stunning lineup of performances.
The fourth day of the AAF, Sunday 5 November, will kick off with the launch of Orient Productions' Theater in Translation project with a panel talk at Beit El Sennari at 10am. This groundbreaking project aims to translate 18 contemporary plays from different European countries – all written after 2010 – into Arabic over the course of three years.
The discussion will tackle key topics in the translation of theater texts such as the distance between written language and spoken dialect, the challenges of adapting foreign texts for an Arab audience, and the possibility of adapting Arabic texts into different languages.
The launch event will be followed by a performance of Ahmed El Attar's Every Brilliant Thing, the first of the 18 translation projects, adapted from Duncan Macmillan's text and starring Syrian actress Nanda Mohamed.
From 2pm to 10pm, Mey Seifan’s groundbreaking How Am I Here? will remain on display at The Factory. Seifan's work is a unique blend of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and dance, raising questions about Syrian refugees’ longing for home to the sound of Shady Ali's dreamy musical composition..
At 3pm, The Factory will host a second showing of Sofiane and Selma Ouissi's otherworldly performance, BIRD – in which Sofiane Ouissi takes the stage with two doves to invite audiences on a journey of self reflection, glimpsing the possibility of a connection transcending species.
At 5pm, Rawabet Art Space will host a Dance Double Bill comprising Mounir Saeed's How El Fann Begins and Ashtar Muallem's Cosmos.
In How El Fann Begins, Egyptian dancer and choreographer Mounir Saeed, who has described his choreographic practice as a means to critically observe the world, casts a uniquely self-reflexive glance on artistic creativity. The show is written and choreographed by Saeed and features his own musical composition, along with lighting design by Saber El Sayed.
Palestinian artist Ashtar Muallem's Cosmos combines theater, dance, and circus arts. In continuous communication with the audience, Muallem, with the direction of Emile Saba and Clément Dazin and to the music of Gregory Adwar, presents her personal journey in isolation – from practicing yoga and meditation to learning to read tarot and auras – with whimsy, satire, and poetic beauty.
Cosmos is produced by Ashtar Muallem and the ASHTAR theater, with light design by Edouard Muallem and Hadeel Khaled, with support from the British Council in Jerusalem, the French Consulate in Jerusalem, and the Goethe Institute in Ramallah.
At 7:30pm, Samer Theater will host Ali Chahrour's spectacular dance performance IZA HAWA – performed by world renowned dancing duo Hanane Hajj-Ali and Roger Assaf, two lovers in real life as on stage.
IZA HAWA, choreographed by Ali Chahrour, is inspired by the artist’s own pondering over what it means to grow old in a city like Beirut. Accompanied by musician Abed Kobeissy, the couple dance their failures, victories, and unbending love story.
At 9pm, D-CAF will host the third and final showing of the French-Moroccan poetry performance of Nini Ya Momo, directed by Henri Jules Julien. The Moroccan phrase "nini ya momo," equivalent to the Egyptian "nena ho," is sung to small children before bed. In this reading, Soukaina Habiballah's words unfold like a heartbreaking lullaby, alternating between the voices of a grandmother suffering from colonial trauma and her granddaughter, battling postpartum depression.
The performance unfolds to a sound composition created by Zouheir Atbane based on Moroccan lullabies collected from very old women in all corners of the country. The show is produced by Haraka Baraka, and co-produced by the Théâtre de Choisy-le-Roi, with the support of the French Institute of Casablanca, the National Institutes of Culture of the European Union (UNEC).
The fourth day of the AAF with the world premiere of Omar Ghayyat's The Lucky Children at 9pm at the AUC TCC Falaki Theater.
In The Lucky Children, director Omar Ghayyat takes audiences on a dream-like journey where past and present unfold simultaneously – moments of becoming and passing dissolving into one another. This visually powerful theater performance with atmospheric sound is an invitation into a sensual world; into other realities, lives, and into a being that seems simultaneously distant and yet, so close and familiar.
The show is performed by Maria Rebecca Sauter, Dominique Jessen, and Michael Rörnbach, with sound design by Wendelin Schmidt-Utt, lighting design by Alina Moser. The show's assistant director and stage manager is Lara Morgan.
The fifth and final day of the Arab Arts Focus, Monday 6 November, will see two more performances of The Lucky Children at 6pm and 9pm at the AUC TCC Falaki Theater.