Birutė Mar’s ANTIGONE’s success at one of Egypt’s biggest theatre festivals

The Solo Theatre team has returned from the 30th edition of one of the most important theatre forums in the Arab world, the International Festival of Experimental Theatre in Cairo, Egypt, which took place from 1-8 September 2023. According to the organisers, of the 88 foreign productions that applied to the festival, 8 were selected for the programme, including the Lithuanian production “Antigone”, based on the tragedy by Sophocles by director and actress Birutė Mar. The festival also presented ten plays from Arab countries.

The festival was also attended by Nodar Dumbadze’s Youth Theatre from Tbilisi, which is already well known in Lithuania (this year it visited the international theatre festival “Jėga” in Alytus), which presented a puppet show for adults called “Othello”. The winner of the festival for the best director was Gia Margania, the director of this production. A number of Arab theatre-makers were also awarded.

Despite the 45 degree heat during the festival week, the performances took place in Cairo’s packed theatres. “Antigone had the special honour of being performed twice in one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in the world, the Cairo Opera House’s Little Hall, which can seat 400 people.

Actress and director Birutė Mar shares her impressions of the festival: “The trip to Egypt was a real adventure. Usually at European festivals we already know each other, but here we have completely new faces, names, colleagues, most of them from Arab countries we have not discovered yet. How will they receive and experience a performance in Lithuanian ( although with English subtitles)? How will they perceive a theatrical language that is different from their usual one? And the Arab audience is not as polite as in Lithuania – if they are bored, they don’t switch off their mobile phones, they grumble, they leave the auditorium. So before “Antigone” I was ready for anything… But during both performances there was a deafening silence in the hall – this was the greatest “Arab gift” and reward.

Birutė Mar’s “Antigone”, in which the actress alone embodies the six characters of Sophocles’ tragedy (the spectacle was created and previously performed on the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre’s stage), has been successfully touring international theatre festivals for the past two decades and has won numerous awards. Egypt is the twenty-second country visited by this production. The costumes for “Antigone” were designed by Jolanta Rimkutė, the composer – Antanas Kučinskas, the video director – Andrius Jakučionis.

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