By Maha ElNabawi
What’s in a name? That which we call Meetphool.net – potentially the most revolutionary website to hit the performing arts sector in Egypt and likely the entire Mediterranean region.
The website is suffused with the traditions of theatre. According to their website, Meetphool derives its catchy name from “the fool” – a theatre with resonance through all folk traditions, from Shakespeare’s fool to the Aragoz, shadow puppets, commedia dell’arte, mime and clown.”
In Arabic, meet fool means one hundred little fava beans, a traditional dish of Egypt, where the idea for meetphool.net was born.
“The website is a professional platform where members of the performing arts sector can showcase their work, share professional expertise and build collaborations,” Nada Sabet, Technical Creative Director of Meetphool, told Daily News Egypt.
With the financial support of the European Union and Environmental and Development Group (EDG), the project’s partner, Meetphool grew from a brilliant idea into an inspiring reality.
Randa Fahmy, managing partner of EDG said, “It was a perfect match between Nada’s idea and EDG’s ongoing work with donor agencies in cultural development. EDG’s resources, proposal experience, and administrative structure complimented the artistic visions [of Nada]. “
Antonio Crea, EU minister counselor said, “The output of what we discovered in this project two years ago, even before the revolution, has been a prophetic idea. It was already relevant before the revolution, and has now become more relevant after, so we are proud of our selection and of the group and their excellent output.”
“The EU is ready to promote and help Egypt as it is in the interest of the EU and the global community as a whole,” Crea added. “After all, Egypt is the center of the world and the most important country in the region for several reasons – history, geopolitical location, size/population and its role as central reference point in the region.
“I am optimistic about the future of Egypt because the country made important steps forward and cannot go back. The January 25 Revolution was a generational revolution, mainly of the youth. Egypt can only go forward from here.”
The site officially launched this past Tuesday, July 5, with a ceremony held at cultural center Darb 1718.
Under the new crescent moon, Meetphool.net came to life with a brilliant 3D simulation of the website through performances from several inaugural artists.
TK Capoeira power-kicked off the two-hour live artistic showcase with leg sweeps and aerial acrobatics; traditional moves in Capoeira, the Brazilian art form that combines mixed martial arts, sports, and music.
Shortly after, our MC of the evening, a red suited Jester with a pushy whistle, shuffled us inside the gallery space; transporting us into a delightful labyrinth of live performances.
The audience shimmied from room to room, watching avant-garde entertainment on improvised stages creatively utilized throughout the space.
Contemporary dance team Ezzat Ismail and Shaymaa Shoukry stunned the audience with a captivating performance on the glass ceiling lined with wooden beams – the audience staring up from below.
Ezzat said, “We wanted to delve into different dimensions of dance, different perceptions, exploring movements in space.”
When asked how Meetphool can benefit his career, Ezzat replied, “It helps by allowing different artists see different types of art and therefore provides connectivity. Everything is connected, music, art, dance.”
The red-suited Jester herded the audience upstairs to view an unconventional puppet theatre by Ahmed Abdel Naiem, a hilariously comedic tale of ‘Mr. Safiha’ (a metallic marionette) and his love triangle with his puppet master and a can of Coca Cola.
“The site will help me showcase the modernization of the marionette, which is typically made out of wood. I used metal materials, lighting and a robotic figure. The site will help me change the opinion of puppet theatre,” Abdel Naiem said.
The dynamic array of acts continued upwards to the open-air lounge area on the roof where Tunisian singer Mehdi R2M charmed the crowd with his R&B electro-reggae fusion.
The compartmentalized performances all came together in an artistic jam session – TK Capoeira kick dancing around one another, Mr. Safiha, the marionette, break dancing and red-suited Jester improvising back up vocals.
The evening concluded in the garden, where the audience was invited to sit on beanbag chairs in front a wall size projection of Meetphool.net for a run-through presentation, a few short speeches, and a whole lot of congratulations.
Meetphool.net’s simplistic yet inviting website design attracts performers and art minded viewers alike, all the while provoking dialogue between different materials of artistic expression.
“Showcase, meet, connect, and play – that’s the whole point,” Sabet said.
The site was launched with a ceremony held at cultural center Darb 1718. (Photo by Hamdy Reda)