From now until Sunday, aspiring artists from Lebanon and around the region will share a platform to present their plays, poetry, films, music and workshops once again at this year's Mishkal Festival. As in past years, all of the events will take place at Al Madina Theater, which is celebrating in conjunction with the festival its 20th anniversary of operation in Hamra.

The focus of the 2014 festival is to encourage communal support for the people of Gaza. “We are trying to show the world the suffering of Gaza; it is our duty to point out and reveal their pain so we can show them that we care," said Awad Awad, head of the festival selection committee.

The aim, he says, is to develop a culture where Palestinian art is recognized and enjoyed by the widest possible audience. Ultimately, it seeks to promote a greater understanding and awareness for Palestinian culture and its distinct role in the social fabric of Arab life.

Lebanese singer Maya Hobeika, who is scheduled to perform on Thursday, September 18, added, "art should always reflect the pain of others, especially today with innocent people suffering, from kids to mothers. So it’s a simple way to salute Gaza, and every place that is struggling. It’s art’s role to bring hope and resilience; it’s our role.”

According to Awad, the festival plays an integral role in linking up university students with the public to increase exposure for their work. Out of a pool of about 220 applicants, 50 graduate students were chosen to show their work at the festival. Among them, Palestinian, Syrian and Jordanian participants.

"We will see some amazing handmade stuff, plus exceptional acting, mime and improvisational workshops. There's also a contemporary dance and puppetry show, in addition to the fine arts exhibition," Awad tells Additional activities include a belly dance workshop, Capoeira workshop, interactive plays, musical performances and lectures.

Maya's performance will take on a more intimate touch. While she usually performs along with an orchestra, this year, she will sing alongside a piano.

“People expect me to perform with an orchestra," she tells, "so it’s going to be new and very charming for them, it’s also my way to show every song in a new light, since singing with the piano appreciates the song in a different way.”

The audience can expect to hear tracks from her newest album, Ward, along with unreleased tracks from her upcoming second album which hasn't yet received a release date. As for performing at Al-Madina Theater, she says: “It’s a special place for me, there aren't that many places that offer opportunities for people to come together and share their art. Mishkal gave me exposure to a new audience. I’ll never forget this place: it’s where I performed for the first time.”

For a look at the full schedule, log on to the Mishkal Festival website.

(Image via Facebook)

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Mishkal Festival 2014 Festival (Theatre)


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