Marhaba Maghreb (Welcome Maghreb) is the UK’s first festival celebrating contemporary North African theatre and dance. In the wake of the post-independence in the Arab World and ongoing media focus on the region, ‘Marhaba Maghreb’ festival aims to give a voice to some of the most important young North African artists who are exploring globally relevant issues whilst also defying our preconceptions. The festival will gather three distinct companies with artists from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, in addition to a rich programme of accompanying events.
The festival opens with French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi’s UK debut What The Day Owes to the Night. This highly physical, stunningly fluid work for 12 Algerian male dancers combines capoeira, martial arts, urban and contemporary dance with powerful imagery evocative of Orientalist paintings and the stone filigree of Islamic architecture. With previous openings at the Bolshoi and New York Ballet, we’re very proud to be the venue that premieres this remarkable project in London.
Other highlights of the festival include a physical theatre Plastic from award-winning Tunisian director Meher Debbich Awachri, about young North Africans aspirations. This international co-production with theatres and festivals in UK, Netherlands and Italy. The show exposes the human conflict between East and West, between those who think they are winners, and others who think they are losers. What brings the young people together is the trade of empty plastic bottles.
Beri Juraic, Director of Sutton Theatres and Festival curator said: “As someone who has been working and visiting North Africa regularly, I have been fascinated by the distorted image of the people and the region in the Western media. By giving a platform to young artists from the region who are already being recognised on the international stage, I wanted to show that that image should and must be rectified.”
The festival also features Cie El-Ajouad’s debut with their 2013 Avignon Festival hit End/Ignified, written by the controversial Algerian journalist Mustapha Benfodil about self-immolations which started the Arab spring.