All you need to know about the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival
From 15 – 24 July 2016, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, the UK’s biggest annual celebration of Arab arts and culture returns to Liverpool for its 15th year, bringing with it a series of 35 events over a packed 10 day period, including 147 UK and international artists and performers.
WATCH our chat with two of the organisers about what we can expect, the history of the festival and more above.
Organisers have put together an impressive programme of events and activities, which they describe as ‘something for everyone’, incorporating visual art, music, dance, film, theatre, literature, discussion, comedy and special free public events in various venues across the city.
Audiences of all ages are well catered for, with three key free family-friendly Arab extravaganzas taking place over two weekends.
Audiences can soak up the festival atmosphere at LAAF Big Sunday (Sunday 17 July, 12 – 5pm at Bluecoat), and enjoy exciting performances by Arab musicians and dancers including Ruba Shamshoum, Reham Al-Hakimi, Al Awadhel Band and Watan Trio.
The festival’s grand finale celebration LAAF Family Day (Sunday 24 July, 12 – 5pm at Sefton Park Palm House) brings big-name international acts such as 47SOUL and Tarabband to the stage, alongside traditional dance performances and whirling dervish Mahmoud Pharaon. Audiences can also enjoy storytelling, cultural cuisine, children’s crafts and an Arabian souk. For the first time, Family Day takes place alongside Liverpool International Music Festival Summer Jam, and LAAF will also be presenting music acts on the Mellowtone Bandstand during the course of the weekend.
LAAF at the World Museum (Saturday 16 July, 1 – 4pm, World Museum) celebrates the traditional arts of the Arab diaspora, including storytelling, folkloric dance and the production of a specially commissioned large-scale artwork by Egyptian calligraphy artist Nazir Tanbouli.
The festival includes two extraordinary pieces of theatre over four nights. LAAF will launch with a two-night run of Queens of Syria (Friday 15 and Saturday16 July, Everyman), a groundbreaking theatre piece created and performed by female Syrian refugees and an eye-opening experience for British audiences, who will hear first hand the harsh realities of lives torn apart by conflict.
Comic play Love, Bombs & Apples (Thursday 21 and Friday 22 July, 7.30pm, Bluecoat) is the latest work from award winning playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak. This one-man show is performed by actor Asif Khan, who takes audiences on a journey through four different scenarios, laden with cultural comment and explored through humour.
The laughs continue with Arabs Are Not Funny! (Saturday 23 July, 7.30pm at Bluecoat) as stand-up comedians Omar Hamdi, Nabil Abdul Rashid, Bilal Zafar, and Ella Al-Shamahi showcase their talent.
Elsewhere in the programme, Egyptian contemporary dance is in the spotlight for Egypt comes to LAAF (Monday 18 July, 7pm at Bluecoat) with a double bill of new work by young independent dance artists and choreographers.
FACT plays host to two evenings of film and discussion as LAAF presents a selection of films from BBC Arabic Festival 2015 (Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 July, 6.30pm at FACT). FACT will also screen acclaimed independent film Speed Sisters (Thursday 21 July, 6.30pm at FACT), the tale of the first all-woman race driving team in the Middle East.
A day in the life of war (Friday 22 July, 6.30pm at FACT) features the screening and discussion of documentaries made by young people in Yemen and Liverpool. The films capture how the under-reported conflict and humanitarian disaster in Yemen is affecting the daily lives of people, both in Yemen and from Liverpool’s Yemeni community.
At The Djinn in the Skull: Stories from hidden Morocco (Sunday 17 July, 3.30pm at Bluecoat), Samantha Herron introduces her new set of stories based in contemporary Morocco and inspired by her long immersion in the culture, language, traditions and storytelling of the country.
For Migrant Stories (Saturday 23 July, 2.30pm at Bluecoat), LAAF will team up with Liverpool Welcomes to give audiences the opportunity to hear people who have travelled from the Arab World, now living in Liverpool, share personal stories in their own words and recounting their own geographical, cultural and emotional journeys.
For more information and to book tickets go to www.arabartsfestival.com