The winners of the Cairo International Exhibition of Unconventional Avant-Garde Stage Design competition included Egyptian set designer Heba El-Koumy, Palestinian designer Esmail Dahlan, Lee Chien-Hsien from Taiwan and two designers from China, Haiyong Liu and Kedong Liu.
The five designers were chosen by the jury consisting of three international theatre makers – scenographers Jean-Guy Lecat (France) and Mia David (Serbia), and academic and director Zenon Kruszelnicki (USA) – whose decision was made after reviewing a total of 56 designs from 20 countries presented within the first such exhibition held in Egypt.
Comprising mainly photographs, in addition to a video presentation and a component of design from an Egyptian play, the exhibition launched on the opening day of the festival.
El-Koumy's design was created for the highly successful Egyptian play Beit Al-Ashbah (The Ghost House), written and directed by Mahmoud Gamal. The performance was a production of Youth Theatre, a result of the Start Your Dream workshop for youth in 2018.
Start Your Dream has since then become an important initiative in the Egyptian theatre with workshops taking place across many governorates and providing opportunities to youth interested in theatre to learn and practice the different facets of theatre, from acting and directing to working in set and light design.
Esmail Dahlan's designs were created for part of Deep Move. The play was directed by Raafat Al-Eidi and performed within the Gaza Theater Days in 2021.
Lee Chien-Hsien's set design was created for Cendrillon (Taiwan), a play produced by the Taipei National University of Arts in 2019. It was directed by Lu Chun Han and written by Joel Pommerat.
Chinese set designer Haiyong Liu's work comes from the Musical Tale of Seeking Music by Beijing Theatre of Ethnic Cultures. The performance premiered in 2017 and was directed by Shan Li and based on the text by Mingming Qu.
Kedong Liu, also from China, created a set for the famed play by Jean Cocteau titled La Voix Humaine (The Human Voice). Presented by the Drum Tower West Theatre in 2019, the play was directed by Zhang Tong.
The Cairo International Exhibition of Unconventional Avant-Garde Stage Design presents works that shed light on set, light, and costume designers’ contributions to their local and international theatre movements.
Spearheaded by the Egyptian scenographer Hazem Shebl, the exhibition showcases 56 designs that were chosen from a total of 106 theatres from 20 countries submitting their works.
The 28th edition of the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater (CIFET) is taking place between 14 and 19 December.