The Moving Theatre | Opera in the Balcony

mahatat for contemporary art

When music and performance go to the public and interact with Egyptian passersby 


The exclusivity of the art scene in Egypt marginalizes the majority of the population from being an art audience and centralization of the arts deprives amateurs and emerging artists outside the capital from exposure and skills development opportunities.

Our role is to take art beyond centralized channels and nurture creative expression and production of art as a visible and accessible part of our everyday life.

By creating a dialogue with public space and raising the artistic voices to challenge and debate with the surroundings, presentations are created that can take any shape, and welcome any artistic expression. This is what happened on February 2016, when trainer Ruud Gielens hoped to capture by asking our Egyptian artists to experiment with theatre through the city of Port Said. Together with writer Hussam Helaly, the trainers facilitated 6 workshops where participants from diverse backgrounds worked for ten days together, not just on acting and performance techniques, but also on what it means to look at your streets with new eyes.

Ruud Gielens,
Hussam Hilali

"I want to ask you something, if someone has been dreaming their entire life of acting but is stuck in a city where there are no opportunities for this – what do they do!"
A passerby

The relationship between an artist and his community is something the Face to Face program wants to focus on, this means being conscious and self-aware in finding new tactics on how an artist wants to communicate to a potential audience, in how far the relationship with the community plays a role.

Personal investment is pre-dominant, but it might be noticed during the process that it is more interesting to combine personal narratives and expressions into one bigger meta-story.

Creating a dialogue with public space and raising the artistic voices to challenge and debate with the surroundings.

Trainer Ruud Gielens hoped to capture the artists talents by asking them to experiment with theatre through the city.

Together with writer Hussam Helaly, the trainers facilitated 6 participants from diverse backgrounds in Port Said.

The workshop concluded with 8 performances to an audience of over 300 in a moving theatre guiding audiences from location to location.

Moving theatre is a living theatre.

On a gentle winter night in the city of Mansoura in Egypt, bystanders suddenly stopped in their tracks and looked up. To their surprise, the view was of an opera singer magically emerging from the second floor of the abandoned palace “Al Ahmar”, transformed into a fairy tale-like estate. The appearance of the singer was part of a site specific performance organized by Mahatat for contemporary art in collaboration with Teatro for Independent Theater to spread classical music and opera singing across Egypt.

Teatro Independent TheatreOmar El mo’taz bellah

The Opera on Balconies performance toured four cities in the Delta region, making its way to the capital Cairo.

Eager to prepare the show, theatre director Omar El Motaz and the Mahatat team toured the northern part of Egypt in search of the perfect balcony to host it.

Passersby heard the music ranging from tunes of lovable shows to classical sounds, providing a pleasant distraction from everyday routines.

"You made me feel like a human being"
An old man from Mansoura

The engaged response also proves that this type of music should not be limited to the confines of exclusive theatre halls and ticketed events.

The result was one of Mahatat’s most unique and powerful productions to date – classical music and opera from the unique position of balconies to over 1700 people.

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