The Shubbak Festival starts on the 28th June bringing exciting, bold, poignant and urgent work by over 150 Arab artists questioning the norm

The fifth edition of the Shubbak Festival starts on the 28th June bringing exciting, bold, poignant and urgent work by Arab artists questioning the norm to London’s stages, concert halls, cinemas, outdoor locations, galleries and museums.

In times when political alliances are shifting, definitions of gender are broadened, divisions between generations are interrogated, and hierarchies of power are exposed, the voices of these artists take audiences to new and unexpected realms of possibilities, a realm where empathy and freedom dares to live.

Eckhard Thiemann, artistic director, said: “This year’s festival has the widest range of artists, venues and artforms since we started from family-friendly circus to performance in museums, from poetry readings to outdoor DJs, from murals to film screenings. Our ever-growing range of partners in London and beyond shows there is a real hunger and interest to hear Arab artists’ take on our times and the world we live in. The beauty of our festival is that we can boldly show many of these views, often creatively contradicting each other, but enriching us with powerful emotion and sharp insights.”

As the UK’s relationship to Europe is at a moment of change, participating artists from across Europe are welcomed. This year’s festival features over 150 artists based in the Arab region, in Europe and in the UK. Furthermore, this year an exciting new partnership with The Gate Theatre will showcase the best of international performance and readings with 11 artists and seven full productions taking to the stage as a part of Shubbak@Gate festival. Ellen McDougall, Artistic Director, Gate Theatre said: “Shubbak@Gate is our jointly curated programme of exceptional theatre by artists from across the Arab world and the diaspora. It includes work for schools and young people, and features work in both English and Arabic. We are so proud, and excited, to be presenting the work of these artists at the Gate.”

Other highlights include contemporary belly-dance, drag and Middle Eastern avant-pop electronica from Lebanese performer Mo Khansa; Kabareh Cheikhats from Casablanca reinventing traditions of drag and gender ambiguity; X-Adra featuring Syrian activists who have been held in the notorious Adra prison; a tribute to the much loved Palestinian singer, songwriter and activist Rim Banna, who died aged 51 in 2018; the latest show from Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger; a pop-up created by Bricklab, Jeddah-based designers of the first Saudi pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale; French-Moroccan journalist, commentator and Prix Goncourt-winning novelist Leïla Slimani discussing what it means to be an Arab feminist in 2019 and the UK premiere of the debut documentary ‘Of Sheep and Men‘  by multi-award winning Algerian director, Karim Sayad.


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