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.

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