International festivals and transnational theatre circuits in Egypt: Ambassadors of no nation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Egypt's former Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, inaugurated the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre (CIFTET) in 1988, when Hosni Mubarak's regime had launched a wave of reforms aimed at globalising the national economy in accordance with International Monetary Fund guidelines. As imported commodities began to pour into Egypt in greater volume, and as satellite television channels brought in foreign genres, state officials sought pre-emptively to define the future of national culture in an era of economic globalisation. The word al-thaqafa (culture) had connoted high culture in Arabic, and the Ministry of Culture had traditionally subsidised literature and art as well as the theatre, that, in the European sense, had gained prestige as a result of Ottoman and British rule. Together with other Western art forms, it had entered the Egyptian cultural canon, and during the 20th century, Egyptian theatre grew robustly. It prospered particularly during periods when state theatres fostered playwriting and subsidised ticket prices. During the 1960s and 70s, state cultural institutions also sponsored playwrights and directors to study abroad, and commissioned a significant number of translations. Intellectual exchange with Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and Britain made for a varied theatre that conducted a dialogue with international trends. However, according to Farouk Hosni, appointed by a regime initiating neo-liberal reforms, the new period of globalisation called for a new style of international theatre.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAfrican Theatre 11
Subtitle of host publicationFestivals
PublisherBoydell and Brewer Ltd
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781782040477
ISBN (Print)9781847010575
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


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