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Festival Director Anne Thwaite introduces this year's Liverpool Arab Arts Festival

This week, we're thrilled to welcome Liverpool Arab Arts Festival back to Bluecoat. Anne Thwaite, Festival Director at LAAF, introduces this year's festival and the highlights to look out for.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) starts this Friday, 5 July and we're excited to holding five incredible events at Bluecoat. 

The festival runs for ten days, concluding with our much-loved Family Day at Sefton Park Palm House on Sunday 14 July.

LAAF’s festival theme this year is Shadow and Light, which goes to the heart of how the story of Arab art and culture is told. As a society, we must reflect on all aspects of lived experience to make sense of where we are and arts and culture is crucial in helping us to navigate this path.

The theme is inspired by Beau Beausoleil’s collaborative and re-affirming project of the same name, which premieres for the UK at LAAF. Shadow and Light is a collaborative project honouring the lives of more than 400 Iraqi academics killed in targeted assassinations between 2003 and 2012 on university campuses, in the street and even at their homes.

Instigated by Beausoleil, founder of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project, Shadow and Light showcases the photographic and written responses from a range of international artists, writers, poets, activists and teachers, including Merseyside-based participants.

The action at Bluecoat starts on Saturday 6 July, with Gesturing Refugees by Farah Saleh. There will also be two empowering and immersive workshops for budding writers, poets and performers, delivered by our LAAF artist in residence, Dana Dajani - Write Yourself (7 July) and Find Your Voice (9 July).

We’re also excited that Bluecoat could be the host of a world premiere performance of Dana’s one-woman theatre show, Heroine with a Thousand Dresses on Saturday, 13 July and launching a brand new book from Comma Press, Palestine + 100, with stories read by by British Palestinian writer, Selma Dabbagh and Palestinian-Hungarian novelist, poet and author, Anwar Hamed.

But that’s not all, there are events taking place across the city from Friday 5 - Sunday 14 July. Tickets for most events cost less than £10 any many are free, so be sure to check out the full programme: http://arabartsfestival.com

Six to See at LAAF 2019

1 LAAF 2019 Launch with Juliana Yazbeck

Music lovers will not want to miss Juliana Yazbeck at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre Studio on Friday 5 July. As part of LAAF’s launch event, she will be performing her incredible debut album SUNGOD, which you can listen to here.

2 They Write the Shadows into Light

Saturday 6 July is set to be an electrifying evening of spoken word performance with They Write the Shadows into Light . The show brings together LAAF’s artist in residence, Dana Dajani, Yemeni-Scouse poet, Amina Atiq, who recently performed her piece Rise, Women, Rise as part of Culture Liverpool’s RISE programme, and queer British-Syrian writer and activist, Lisa Luxx, whose recent work Lesbian has been making waves online and at Bristol Pride. That’s happening over at VideOydessy at Toxteth TV.

3 Celebrating Youssef Chahine

Picturehouse at FACT will sees the first of three UK premieres as part of LAAF’s ‘Celebrating Youssef Chahine’ series, beautifully remastered versions of three of the renowned Egyptian directors semi-autobiographical films. Each film even features a panel discussion after the screening!

4 Chronicles of Majnun Layla

Theatre lovers should not miss Chronicles of Majnun Layla at Unity Theatre on Sunday 7 July. Fresh from shows at Shubbak Festival in London and produced by Alia Alzougbi the show re-tells a classic love story, widely considered to be the Arab Romeo & Juliet, performed in a contemporary bilingual rendering with live music. Don’t worry, there will be subtitles so you can keep up with all the action!

5 The Trace of the Butterfly: A Tribute to Rim Banna

LAAF will be paying tribute to Rim Banna with the only UK performance of The Trace of the Butterfly outside of London. The show, which honours the phenomenal Palestinan singer and activist who lost her battle with breast cancer last year, will see her friends and contemporaries performing some of her best-loved works. The unmissable line up includes Lebanese artist, singer and songwriter, Tania Saleh, Palestinian pianist and composer, Faraj Suleiman, Syrian MC and hip hop producer, Bu Kolthoum and the Tunisian singer, songwriter and composer, Sabrine Jenhani. It’s all taking place on Friday 12 July at 8pm at Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music Room. 

6 evolvo and One Day + One Night Beirut

LAAF is also bringing renowned Lebanese visual artist and performer, Yara Boustany, to Unity Theatre to perform two of her works, produced by Shubbak, in one special show on Thursday 11 July. The complex and magical ?volv? follows a journey from idyllic nature in the mountains of Lebanon, to the busy street-life of Beirut, while One Day and One Night Beirut is reflects everyday life in Beirut, depicting 24 hours from sleep to wake – a journey from dreaming to reality.

 

If it’s your first time attending LAAF and you’re unsure what to expect, you should check out the 2018 highlights video - watch it here. Subscribe to the LAAF 2019 Google calendar and you can get all the event details at your fingertips by syncing with your own calendar. That way you won’t miss a minute!


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