Maher Selim The Head of the Theatre Art House, Maher Selim, announced his intention to sign protocols aimed at the full redevelopment of the troupe at the opening of the play “Ashqeen Turabek” (I Don’t Understand) by Egyptian
troupe Saha (Arena).
Speaking at a press conference held on the occasion of the opening, Selim said that several protocols have already been signed with a number of European countries, targeting development in advertising, training and other elements of theatre. Selim said he seeks to transform Saha into “an Egyptian-style, world-class troupe,” at the same level as companies he saw perform in Italy.
Selim also signed protocols with the Philippines as well as national agreements with all Egyptian governorates to host troupe tours, allowing the company to present its work to the Egyptian audience across the board. Protocols signed with the Philippines, Selim said, are dedicated to benefiting from the country’s experience in the areas of training and theatre technology.
Praising the young troupe’s performance in rehearsals, Selim cited their enthusiasm for the production as the reason behind his decision to support them.
The press conference, held in the Salah Jaheen Hall in the Balloon Theatre, was also attended by Dr. Zakareya Abdulshafi, Head of the Folklore and Dance Art House; Sameh el-Seraity (who moderated the discussion), Vice President of the Actors’ Syndicate, Saha manager, director Essam el-Shewaikh and Mohammed Sharqawy who directed the production.
On the subject of funding and management, Selim mentioned sponsorship agreements with EgyptAir and some telecom companies. Promising financial and artistic independence of state-run troupes, Selim said each company will have its own junior committee to read and approve scripts. Budgets will also be independent, he added, with accounts being reviewed with the troupe manager and artistic office on a season-by-season basis, which he said would give them ample opportunity for creativity and innovation.
Actor and syndicate official Sameh el-Seraity what he called the “deliberate neglect” of the role of theatre by the state in recent years. This phenomenon, he said, is characterized by the abandonment of the tradition that saw the Culture Minister and top theatre officials attend dress rehearsal and production openings. El-Seraity, however, expressed happiness at Selim’s presence, the media attention and the enthusiasm of the production crew and said he hoped the attention was genuine and not only for show. Calling theatre an important social outlet that he said was under attack in recent years, the actor said he did not know what “the new regime” had in store for the drama sector. He also thanked Nasser Abdulmuneim, Selim’s predecessor, who was excited about the production and included it in the production budget.
Essam el-Shewaikh thanked all members of the company who helped the production to see the light. He spoke of the importance of proper management in any human activity, saying that it provides discipline and direction towards the desired goals. El-Shewaikh also thanked Culture Minister Saber Arab and President of the Cultural Production Sector, Dr. Khaled Abdulgeleel, whom el-Shewaikh praised for providing the theatre with five million pounds in funds from sources other than the Finance Ministry.
“I Don’t Understand” is a multi-protagonist play by a group of High Institute for Theatrical Arts students and graduates. Cast includes Mohammed Yussef, Rania el-Khateeb, Ahmed Zakaria, Hala Seroor, Mogammed Zaki, Nourhan el-Gohary, Hager Gad, Mohammed Zidan, Nora Nour, Abdulla Selim and Hamdy Aziz. Choreography is by Mohammed Attef, music production by Mohammed Zaki, advertising by Mino, costume design by Hoda el-Segeiny and set design by Sobhy Abdulgawad. The play was written by Yasser Allam. Mohammed el-Sharqawy directed the production.