Aiming to revive the various puppet theatre arts in Egypt, Kayan marionette puppet theatre will host the first round of the international online festival for puppet shows on 1-30 March. The festival will launch a new platform for connecting thousands of puppeteers from around the globe while also providing the public with an innovative way to enjoy this art while saving time and money.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t had any puppet festivals in Egypt since this art began in the 1960s,” said Mohammed Fawzy, the head of the festival who has been working in the fields of directing, acting, and puppeteering for 22 years.
Fawzy established Kayan marionette puppet theatre in 2011 after the revolution to help artists who are interested in this kind of art improve their skills and learn new techniques. The idea spread to many governorates all over Egypt as artists were encouraged to start their independent theatrical troops in Qena, Minya, and Fayoum.
“I can say that this puppet festival is the first of its kind in the world. It relies on social media, mainly Facebook, as a convenient way for the audience to watch different shows 24/7 for 30 days. The puppet shows will be classified according to various age segments to suit a wide variety of audiences, starting from the age of three to parents and university students,” he added.
The audiences will be asked to vote for the best performance during the days of the festival. The festival will not only provide an entertaining service but also an educational one.
“Puppet arts were found to be very effective in helping autistic children or those who have special needs learn new skills and acquire new information about the surrounding community. Therefore, a number of therapeutic puppet workshops will be showed by the Algerian artist Maddah Sayed Ahmed during the festival to help children with disabilities,” he added.
On the other side, the festival will contribute to promoting puppet arts in Egypt after years of neglect. “I wonder why we don’t have any specialised institutes or schools to teach this important art in Egypt, although I found out that countries like Germany and France currently pay great attention to this kind of art on both the academic and professional levels,” he noted.
The festival received great support from the Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA) that connects about four million puppet artists in the world. It also received support from the head of the Egyptian Actors’ Union, Ashraf Zaki, who offered to sponsor the festival.
The festival may also be a great chance to promote tourism in Egypt on many levels. “We will ask people to share selfies of themselves through our hashtag showing the remarkable natural and historical places in Egypt. This will be a great chance for about five million audience members who are watching the shows online from around the globe to get introduced to the Egyptian culture and civilisation,” he added.
Trying to give an equal chance for people living in deprived areas to participate in the festival and watch the various shows, huge screens and projectors will be moved to different informal housing areas to enable people who don’t have laptops or mobile phones to enjoy the shows.
“This festival can be considered a first step towards bridging the gap between the puppet arts and the audience members in Egypt. We hope that schools will allocate certain sessions to make use of the educational shows presented,” he concluded.