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Shubbak 2021 Announces Programme Highlights

The festival runs 20th June – Saturday 17th July.

Shubbak 2021 invites you to witness the creativity, responsiveness and imaginative power of Arab artists to speak to our times. Born out of the rupture across Arab countries ten years ago, the festival programme reflects our fundamental desire to connect to people and ideas across borders in an unsettled world. The festival offers new perspectives on how we can come together again and asks how historical events and personal experiences shape our existence.

Virtually all the work in the festival is brand-new - commissioned or conceived especially for this year's conditions. From outdoor audio-guided theatre, UK music and spoken word talent in intimate surroundings and new collaborations and installations in iconic locations and local neighbourhoods uncovering subtle histories and personal memories. In a year when international work has been in short supply Shubbak welcomes performers from Palestine, Berlin and Lebanon.

Shubbak 2021 Programme- Highlights

Sited online and in Chelsea Physic Garden, London's oldest botanical gardens, Every Act of Recognition Alters What Survives is a major new Shubbak commission from Rand Abdul Jabbar, a multi-disciplinary artist born in Baghdad. Consisting of a series of sculptural interventions, performances and a digital archive, the work emerged from a participatory process in which women of the Iraqi and Arab diaspora in London engaged in conversation around the role of memories in relation to place and history.

The Mosaic Rooms presents the first UK solo exhibition by Syrian Berlin-based artists Sami Rustom, Omar Nicolas and Kenan Darwich aka Fehras Publishing Practices, a collective exploring significant cultural moments in the history of Arab publishing through performance, installation and publications. Borrowed Faces: Future Recall looks at the Cold War and its effect on cultural practices in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa region, an extremely fertile period in the history of Arab culture and publishing.

Pipe Dreams Zine explores how Park Royal, a heavily industrialised area in northwest London, has become a burgeoning hub for London's Arab diaspora. Through interviews, photography and graphic illustrations the work looks at how the shisha lounges tucked in among the large warehouses, attempt to recreate the atmosphere of Beirut in England, minus the weather. Curated by writer, cultural producer, and award-winning film-maker Zain Dada co-founder of Khidr Collective Zine - a zine platforming the work of British Muslims.

The Distant Here is a 3-week walking exhibition which takes quotes in Arabic and English from two Palestinian authors Heba Hayek and Yara Hawari's new novels (Sambac Beneath Unlikely Skies and The Stone House) published by Hajar Press and places them in culturally significant locations for the Arab diaspora in Shepherds Bush, Ladbroke Grove, Chelsea, and Park Royal such as cafés, cultural spaces and bookshops, billboards, posters and even postcards in shops. A downloadable PDF map will help the walker to find the quotes designed by Lebanese graphic designer Farah Fayyad, a specialist in Arabic typography.

Eating the Copper Apple at Rich Mix is a one-woman verse play that explores adoption and mixed-heritage by the British Syrian prize-winning queer poet and writer lisa luxx. Shaped by her life, it weaves together politics and dreams, loss and fulfilment into a voyage from West Yorkshire to the borders of Syria through family, romance and culture. Originally commissioned by the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.

Haifa based Palestinian theatre-makers Khashabi Theatre present the UK premiere of HASH, a theatrical work for one actor is the story of a body getting larger in a tiny room. Written by Bashar Markus HASH observes a person so immobilized by fear that venturing outside has become impossible. He watches as his body grows and he searches for his life story within the confines of a tiny room. Somewhere between claustrophobia and a metaphor of the contemporary world, Bashar Markus delivers a stinging satire of the society of consumption. Khashabi works towards a Palestinian society that freely practices art and creativity as a natural right, and strives to renew its cultural identity by putting independent culture at its heart.

At Toynbee Studios Niqabi Ninja by Cairo born, Glasgow based writer Sara Shaarawi is a graphic-novel style revenge story about one woman's transformation into a Cairene vigilante, as she attempts to right the wrongs of pervasive male violence. Originally written in reaction to the 2012-2014 mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square, this is a universal story about rape culture, and the male violence that operates across the world. European premiere Warning: This production contains highly sensitive content about male violence against women.

The UK premiere of The Land's Heart is Greater Than Its Map, a Shubbak co-presentation with the Barbican, is an alternative guided tour of a distant city, which cannot be named. Its people are silenced and its landscape is disappearing. Propelled by a need to tell the city's story before it is forever forgotten, a resident records the stories behind his favourite places. The journey to this distant city will take place within the streets of London and requires only comfortable shoes and an open imagination. Co-created by Ramzi Maqdisi, a Palestinian actor, filmmaker & writer and director Olivia Furber.

Online the world premiere of The Return of Danton, a new play by Syrian playwright Mudar Alhaggi, directed by Omar Elerian, explores the dynamics of political revolutions - from the French Revolution to the Arab Spring - and how this can be reflected within the politics of the rehearsal room. Performed by Collective Ma'louba, a Syrian, Arabic-speaking artist and theatre collective based in Germany their work questions the political and social condition of the Arab world. Omar was the resident Associate Director at the Bush Theatre from 2012-2019, where he commissioned and directed some of theatre's most successful shows including smash-hit Misty by Arinzé Kene (Bush, West End).

Cairo KitKat Club by Adham Hafez and HaRaKa Platform is a live, experimental digital performance that retells the history of cabaret and clandestine performance through the story of Egypt's KitKat Club, the now-demolished, infamous nightclub established in 19th century Cairo. The cabaret and its patrons witnessed the radical performance practices of artists from Egypt, Germany, the US and France against a backdrop of colonialist conquests, urban decay and revolutionary hope.

Image & Movement:Our Cup is Broken is a bold and visceral piece of livestreamed dance in a country where contemporary performance has yet to reach a wider audience. Riyadh-based choreographer and dancer Sarah Brahim performs in a studio in the Saudi capital, dancing live in front of projected images shot by the artist on location in her hometown and throughout Saudi Arabia. The visuals are mixed live by Portland-based video artist Fernanda D'Agostino. This world premiere, commissioned by Shubbak, will be followed by a discussion with all the artists featuring in Image & Movement.

For Image & Movement:Liveness & Performance in recent Saudi Video Art Shubbak brings together a specially curated selection of works by female Saudi artists, whose practices are at the intersection of movement, live performance and choreography. Either trained in choreography, collaborating with choreographers or other artists, or self-staging, each artist has a distinct and personal approach to the way they use the human body as an expressive tool in their work. Their diverse practices range from quirky renditions of traditional culture, epic cinematic storytelling, choreography inspired by landscapes to Instagram-disseminated performances. Image & Movement includes works by Marwah AlMugait, Sarah Brahim, Ahaad Alamoudi and Balqis Al Rashed.

Adnan Joubran, the renowned oud player, composer and member of the award-winning trio Le Trio Joubran presents a reworking of his 2014 debut album, Borders Behind. Whilst paying homage to the heritage of the oud, Joubran's musical journey takes him beyond traditional music, incorporating Indian, flamenco, jazz and classical influences in his pulsing shows.

Commissioned by Shubbak in partnership with MARSM The London Syrian Ensemble, presents The Sounds of Syria at King's Place and on tour bringing to the stage, for the first time, newly commissioned instrumental arrangements by composers from Syria and its diaspora. The Ensemble, led by composer and ney soloist Louai Alhenawi, is a unique collective of musicians trained at the eminent Damascus Conservatoire. Working in the Arabic modes known as maqam, the group performs on a range of instruments, including the ney (flute), kanun (zither), daf, riqq and darbuka (percussion), violin, viola and double bass.

The SAFAR Film Festival is the only festival in the UK dedicated to cinema from the Arab world. Founded in 2012 and running biennially since then, SAFAR offers a unique space for audiences to connect with, explore, and celebrate the diversity of Arab cinema past, present, and future.This year, SAFAR is teaming up with Shubbak to present their festival film programme celebrating the diversity of Arab cinema past, present and future. This special, hybrid edition of SAFAR will offer a curated programme of shorts, feature fiction and documentary films mirroring 10 years of Arab Spring both on the big screen and at home

For 2021 Shubbak has partnered with Glasgow based Dardishi, an organisation that showcases Arab and North African women's contributions to contemporary art and culture, to present three well-being works and two talks.

Walking Softly, a podcast by Lebanese archivist and storyteller Layla K. Feghali is a guided walk through the plantcestral worlds that surround us. This gentle stroll is an invitation into the soft and sensory realms of plants and the elements of your own neighbourhood, which may be real, imagined or remembered.

The Fear of Not Making Sense: A Movement Workshop is an online wellbeing workshop for Black, indigenous and other people of colour. When words are no longer sufficient to manifest the impact of the last year, Lama Amine a performer, choreographer, teacher and activist based in Lebanon guides a somatic release session focusing on visualisation exercises to harness rootedness in the present.

Nicole J. Georges is a queer, Syrian-American writer, illustrator, podcaster from Portland. Georges has been publishing autobiographical comics about her queer vegan life for the past 25 years, evolving from punk zinester to (still punk) graphic novelist. Her online Self Care Illustration Workshop teaches creating a care practice through the medium of illustration.

Gender Transgression, (de-)legitimacy and imposter syndrome, using the Arab uprisings as a focus, this talk attempts to analyse the place of South West Asian and North African (SWANA) female academics and journalists in mainstream academia and media.

Mainstreaming Subaltern Writing attempts to contextualise Gayatri Spivak's question-essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" Using the term which means 'lower rank' in the context of Black women's writing emerging from South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA) and its diasporas. The panel will ask if these women are resisting their gender framing through writing from a subaltern perspective? Both sessions are moderated by Houda Mzioudet a Toronto-based academic researcher and former journalist, who covered the uprisings and their aftermath in Tunisia and Libya between 2011 and 2018.

At Rich Mix Shubbak and Saqi Books presents a lively evening of poetry and spoken word, launching We Wrote in Symbols edited by Selma Dabbagh. It is a little-known secret that Arabic literature has a long tradition of erotic writing. Behind that secret lies another - that many of the writers are women. We Wrote in Symbols, celebrates the work of 75 of these female writers of Arab heritage who articulate love and lust with artistry and skill. Writers from the book will perform and read their material and compere Jenna Al-Ansari will be in conversation with writers including Sabrina Mahfouz, Selma Dabbagh, Laura Hanna and Saeida Rouass.

Designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2019 Slemani (Sulaymaniyah), a city in the east of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is also the epicentre of Kurdish Iraqi cultures with a proud history of live poetry. For the World Premiere of Bringing Images Home four poets associated with Kashkul, the Slemani Center of Arts and Culture, will discuss finding their distinct voices against a background of forced Arabisation, war and diasporic experiences. Each poet has been commissioned by Shubbak to create a new video poem, filmed in their current resident locations: Slemani, Exeter and Dublin, which will be shown as part of the discussion. Alka Aziz is a Kurdish artist based in Dublin; Zêdan Xelef was born in Shingal Mountain; Bryar Bajalan is a writer, translator and filmmaker at the University of Exeter and Hawre Khalid was born in Iraq's contested city of Kirkuk.

The region of South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA) and its diaspora was never exclusively white or Arab but rather an extensively diverse region of races, languages, and culture but still Anti-Blackness in the region exists. Creating while Black | In the SWANA Region and its Diaspora welcomes a diverse panel of Black creatives from the region and its diaspora to share their thoughts and experiences. The panel includes actor and theatre-maker, Colette Dalal Tchantcho, activist Amna Ali, creative cultural producer and artist, Khalid Albaih, podcaster and cultural manager, Nareeman Dosa. Curated and moderated by Sudanese-British artist Rayan Elnayal.

The festival runs 20th June - Saturday 17th July.


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