AFAC closed its 2013 Performing Arts call on April 2nd and received a total of 110 applications from around the Arab region. After a thorough evaluation by a jury committee that includied Sawsan Darwaza from Jordan, Mahmoud Al-Lozi from Egypt and Fadi Abi-Samra from Lebanon, 15 projects were selected to receive grants.
The total amount of the grants was 180,000 USD and the new grantees included 9 individuals and 6 institutions from Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Palestine.
The selected projects emphasised the necessity to move out of capitals and towns into suburbs and marginalised areas and were overly conscious of a dominant youth audience in the Arab region. Several projects represented a collective effort to think, create and perform, moving away from an individualistic into a group-driven cultural production. While several grantees dwelled on the burning issues lived by a region that is still undergoing change and an increased polarisation, many seemed to look for inspiration from written sources outside of their immediate environment, possibly indicating a difficulty to write and express in one's own words about one's own reality.
AFAC is currently accepting applications for the categories of Cinema, Music and RTR (Research, Training and Regional Events). Music and RTR applications must be submitted online no later than September 1st, 2013. Cinema Applications must be submitted online no later than August 1st, 2013.
Scroll down for the list of the new Performing Arts grantees
Grantee: Sawsan Bou Khaled (Lebanon)
Curled up in her bed, a woman glimpses into an infinity of worlds, worlds of dreams and hallucinations. She swings between wakefulness and sleep, between emptiness and infinity. She unleashes her imaginary friends, and dares not set foot on the ground, for the monster hiding under her bed waits to grab her and pull her into the abyss.
Grantee: Ali Shahrour (Lebanon)
Project: The Moon’s Abode
An interactive contemporary dance performance explores the aesthetics of music appreciation within Arabic culture and how it manifests as body expression among the Arab youth today, particularly in relationship to Beirut, a focal point for many young Arab artists and art appreciators. The songs of Um Kulthum are used as the testing ground for this project’s study, being equally familiar to the dancers participating and the audiences alike as the most exalted artistic and social expression that has shaped Arab cultural taste.
Grantee: Cyrinne Douss (Tunisia)
Project: Grains of memories
After the revolution, there is confusion and contradiction. Some Tunisian feel utterly lost and afraid while others are hopeful and confident about the future. This dance performance offers a choreographic research on time and history in today’s Tunisia. It deals with what has been burned into our conscious and unconscious memory, both from a collective and an individual perspective.
Grantee: Omar Gbaeei (Syria)
Project: Dr. Balmy’s Double Story
Based on the play by Spanish playwright Antonio Buerro Biacho. The play mixes classical performance with contemporary performing arts and cinematic media.
Grantee: Wessal Mahmoud (Egypt)
Seeking to promote the art of puppetry among children living in marginalized areas, and particularly Syrian children living in the refugee camps in the city of Alexandria, this project is a series of workshops and theatre performances that uses story-telling to develop the sense of self-expression and creative capacity among these children. The stories will be composed from their own imagination, their own sense of heritage, and their own ways of coping with the obstacles they are facing.
Grantee: Safa Mohammadi (Egypt)
Project: 1001 Mimes for Change – 2nd Edition
In the aftermath of the dramatic political changes that Egypt and the entire Arab region are going through, performance arts theatre, particularly the non-verbal expression of miming is becoming ever more relevant. This performance project will feature silent actors who are witnessing or engaging with changes around them in a profound way, offering an important opportunity for the public to connect with new forms of embodied artistic expression through acting in silence.
Grantee: Moez Mrabet (Tunisia)
Project: “Striptease – the Rat’s Feast”
This project is an experimental performance that explores issues of authority, identity, religion and the contentious relationships between them. It is a journey across the past, present and future of the Tunisian revolution. It questions the act of theatre, in its various aspects, the artistic and the technical, and seeks to discover new theatrical expressions that can reflect on the deep transformations that Tunisian society is witnessing today.
Grantee: Nancy Naous (Lebanon)
Project: These shoes are made for walking
A theatrical and contemporary dance performance combining movement, sound and music through an acting/dancing couple. There will be a couch on set, a microphone, and shoes everywhere, questioning where to go next?
Grantee: Joyce Raie (Jordan)
Project: Empty Cassette
Krapp lives in a small furnished apartment that does not contain any of his belongings. All that his neighbors know about him is that he is a stranger. They even start to doubt his existence. Nobody notices his absence except for a young lady next door, a writer in her mid-twenties who sets off to search for this ever absent-present neighbor.
Grantee: Dictaphone (Lebanon)
Project: Nothing to Declare
Nothing to Declare is a performance that explores borders within Lebanon and across the Arab world. Through a personal journey along railways and across border demarcations, Nothing to Declare is a collection of lived events that question these borders that were imposed upon us. It presents our understanding of shared space along with a new set of political propositions.
Grantee: Espace Darja (Morocco)
Project: Hay Rapsody
The project will lead 15 young children, ages 11 to 14, to create their own musicality from everyday life and surroundings sounds and noises, inviting them to use their environment to dance and to explore new ways of creation.
Grantee: Maqamat Dance Theater (Lebanon)
Bern Beirut (working title) is a collaborative dance project initiated by Marcel Leemann (Marcel Leemann Physical Dance Theatre, Bern, Switzerland) and Omar Rajeh (Maqamat Dance Theatre, Beirut, Lebanon). Composer, guitarist and oud virtuoso Mahmoud Turkmani (born in Lebanon, living in Berne) will create the music for this contemporary work. The performance highlights and questions our perception of ‘life’ as expressed and understood through words and language.
Grantee: The Freedom Theater (Palestine)
Project: The Playback Theatre Freedom Bus
One-year Playback Theatre Freedom Bus project takes a troupe of professional theatre actors to remote Palestinian communities where they transform personal accounts of audience members into pieces of improvised theatre. This interactive approach is congruent with the age-old story-telling tradition of the Arab Hakawati. Even the most under-exposed audiences will have the opportunity to watch and participate in this intensive theatre experience.
Grantee: The Palestinian Circus School (Palestine)
We walk on lines that have been drawn for us. We live in molds fabricated through the accumulations of history. Repetition and pressure drags the mind into a confined and hysteric state. Insanity becomes the motor of going against the 'normal'.
Grantee: Popular Imagination Theatre (Egypt)
Project: The Revolution of Colors – 2nd edition
A performance that triggers the concept of freedom of expression that is lately dominating in the Arab societies and occupying the Egyptian society as a whole, after experimenting with the almost 60 years of dictatorship. The project proposes models and new tools in creativity, participation and movements, not only in Cairo, but also in all governorates of Egypt.