Egyptian Chronicles: A Night at the Egyptian National Theatre

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Night at the Egyptian National Theatre

Location Abd El-Khalik Tharwat, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
If you are following the Egyptian Chronicles blog carefully in the past few weeks, you will notice that I have been posting photos from the Egyptian National Theatre from time to time since December.

Tonight I decided instead of speaking about the Black comedy taking place in the Egyptian Parliament, I will speak about my night at the Egyptian National theatre and share the rest of the photos I took it there.

Last December, I went with my family to the Egyptian National Theatre to attend its successful production of Layla Min Alf Layla (One of a Thousand Nights) musical starring veteran Yahia El-Fakharany, Heba Magdi and Mohamed Mohsen.

The Musical production was a hit for the State-owned Egyptian National Theatre since its launch in August. In December, it smashed the box office records and achieved LE 2 million in time nobody goes to theatres in Egypt except very few.

This was the first time I had gone to Egypt's National Theatre and to know its history.
The Egyptian National theatre in Cairo
The entrance of the Egyptian National Theatre in Down Town Cairo
If what I read about it correct then it will be the oldest National Theatre building in Egypt and Middle East that is still in its place and operating since the 19th century.

Located in Al-Azbakeya area in Downtown Cairo, the National Theatre story started in 1869 when Khedive Ismail ordered its construction to host the
shows of 'Comedie-Franciase' in Cairo during the legendary inauguration of the Suez Canal.

The Egyptian National theatre in Cairo
The exterior of the Egyptian National Theatre building showing
the features of famous orientalist Moorish Heliopolis style 

Known during then as 'Al-Azbakeya Theatre', it hosted the first Egyptian-Syrian theatrical shows for Abu Khalil Qabbani theatre company in 1885.

The Egyptian National theatre in Cairo
The Egyptian National Theatre's classical hall

Sheikh Salama Hegazi and Syrian Iskander Farah used to present their musicals on the stage of Al-Azbakeya fro 1891 to 1905.
The Egyptian National theatre in Cairo
The magnificent dome of the Egyptian National Theatre

With the rise of Egyptian nationalism and calls of independence, calls for a National theatre company began.
In 1920, the Egyptian National theatre was founded by legendary Egyptian nationalist economist and industrialist Talaat Harb in that building.
From 1935 to 1941, a theatre company led by Lebanese poet Khalil Mutran used to present its shows. In 1941 that theatre company was banned from presenting its plays for inciting against the British occupation.
The Egyptian National theatre in Cairo
Talaat Harb who started his life as conservative and ended it as the Saint patron of
Egypt's liberal cultural life whether in theatre or cinema 

That's the year written on its Stage "1920".

The #Egyptian National #Theatre in #Downtown #Cairo #Cairowalk #ThisisEgypt #Citizenjournalism #blogger #Egypt #Discoveryourcity #downtownCairo
Written above the stage the famous poetry verses the date of inauguration the National Theatre
in 1920 as well that poetry verses of Ahmed Shawki "Nations live as long as their morals do,
when virtues die nations do"*

After the 1952 July coup aka 23 July Revolution, the National theatre was officially founded and became part of the Egyptian ministry of culture.
The Egyptian National theatre in Cairo
Another magnificent ceiling at the Egyptian National Theatre

In 2008, fire torched the old theatre but fortunately it did not join the old Khedival Opera that used to existed couple of blocks away.
It was saved and renovated. Already the main building kept its oriental style but there is new modern extension added to it
The Egyptian National theatre in Cairo
A modern painting by Egyptian painter Ahmed Sheiha 

Layla Min Alf Layla (One of a Thousand Nights) musical is based on the poetry of legendary Beyram Al-Tunsi and the music of legendary but underrated unfortunately Ahmed Sedki
By the way, the villain in that musical fantasy was the corrupted minister of interior in time of Calipah in Baghdad.
The Egyptian National theatre in Cairo
Yahia Al-Fakharany and the rest of the cast

Aside from its success, the musical play made headlines recently as its young leading actress Heba Magdy and singer Mohamed Mohsen declared their engagement on stage after from two weeks ago.

I like that nice couple, they are so cute. God bless them both and bless their voices too.
Now, here is the complete slideshow of photos I took at the Egyptian National theatre using my mobile phone.

1 comment :

  1. <> The most infamous quote,or a line that ever SAID in Arab Cine-Theatre world in the last 80 years or so,by The LAWRENCE OLIVIER of the Arab Stage/SilverScreen GIANT/GENIUS/PHENOMENON>>>Late Mr.YOUSSEF WAHBI or THE- AMEED AL MASSRAH AL ARABI ? In one of his great PLAYS..that shook the Arab Theatrical world with his Roles ,whatever he played ..he played it PERFECTLY,be it a Pauper or a Prince /A King/a A Father/UNCLE or a /TEACHER /or an Army General..with his great/renowned HUSKY if suitable for an Opera Tenor.. that vibrated in any venue he has been for , at least 4 decades or more..appeared in over 100 movies as a leading ,and other times ..just supporting actor,,but in both cases whatever he said ,every word entered audience s Ears>>Hearts+Minds & Echoed for months and possibly,more!..Maybe one thing in my whole life I done RIGHT is to buy 2 tickets for me and a friend to see one of his PLAYS..sometime in 1970s when he came with his *Masrah Y.Wahbi*to Lebanon, in Beirut he appeared on Cinema/Theatre >AL AMEER<,an underground venue ,next to Cinema CAPITOL ,both cinemas..gone long ago ,but Capitol/ASSAYLY Building ,thank GOD still stands as before opposite Immortal Leader RYAD EL SOLH s Giant statue/Ryad Solh Square-Downtown Beirut/...after this, that >>AL AMEER theatre converted into a vast BOOK s depot..large LIBRARY..THEN 1975 ..Lebanese civil war took everything in its stride?...One thing i still remember and feel guilty about is when i went to see the play ,i took my Instamatic Camera to take some photos,when quietly i approached the stage on my knees to take photos while they were acting, Mr. WAHBI..hand signaled to Lady Ameena Rizk<<(Great Actress too) to look at the camera as her back was to me,i guess Dear soul thought I was a journalist ,an the only one with camera in 100 or less attendants........ Sorry Mr. WAHBI for such unintentional..disappointment ,from my modest self to your undying memory & MISS A.RIZK too as well?!Long after this ,one day when i went to an office building to visit a friend ,his next door office (occupied by a Dentist s CLINIC),the female receptionist told us Look who was here for his Teeth..we looked and there stands that GIANT,with his fist on his cheek,a tooth taken out..i suppose??still his voice rings in my ears., after 45 years.believe me!! ..BUT HE broke my heart when in the 1970 & AS he appeared in low BUDGET/level movies..not to his acting caliber, maybe to cover his living expenses was really and to pay HIGH taxes?? ..It was heart breaking to see how materialism wins over talent/dignity/reputation..SAD ,to witness a CEDARS tree..crumbling just like that after decades s GREATNESS~!!But HE will be REMEMBERED with all his casts members ,most of them ,in eternity with Him i assume for His+Their Great contributions to ARAB THEATRE for long years of their lives!!..before i finish this--memory lane-- i like to remember seeing>>The queen of Theatres<< in Egypt, or MALEEKAT AL MASSAREH,back in the 1920/30/30s lADY Madam:BADIAA MASSABNI? at Lebanon s>AL SHTOURA< mountainous town while buying some dairy products,as if it was yesterday,,i still remember her standing near the door and telling us <>,Bless Her, SHE was very pleased when She knew that we drew all the way from Beirut to taste & purchase some of Her DELICIOUS dairy products,this was in early 1970s......IT is true, we all pass away Soon or Late , what we leave behind .. are such trivial memories..that make us & others,hearts>>SMILE now and then & WHENEVER REMEMBERED..THE DEAR ONES!!....GOD bless you all,regards from IS-HAK Barsoumian/London


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