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Actor Mahmoud Masoud performs during a stage show named "In Egypt's Name" at a small drama theater in Cairo Denzel Ward Jersey , Egypt Baker Mayfield Jersey , June 14 Cheap Cleveland Browns Jerseys , 2016. (XinhuaMeng Tao) An actor receives his reward during the closing ceremony of 9th session of the Egyptian National Theater Festival at the Opera House in downtown Cairo Duke Johnson Jr Browns Jersey , Egypt Nate Orchard Browns Jersey , Aug. 9 Antonio Callaway Browns Jersey , 2016. (XinhuaWang Xue)
by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- "For me, Egypt is the most beloved and beautiful of all. I love her when she owns the world's east and west. And I love her when she is down, wounded in war... "

With these verses, Egyptian well-known actor Mahmoud Masoud opened his one-man poetic stage performance entitled "In Egypt's Name," written by late renowned poet Salah Jahin in 1971, with a background screen displaying historic and modern photos of Egypt for few attendees at the country's national Cairo Puppet Theater.

"The audience today are different. In the past, a spectator used to go to theater to enjoy art and poetry, but today they have neither patience nor energy. Therefore, I didn't perform the whole poem but only parts of it," Masoud said following the performance, lamenting the deteriorating conditions of the theater art in the most populous Arab country.

"I had the same stage poetry experience in Alexandria Bibliotheca and other places, and I just hope it will become a popular theater trend. I don't care about fees or revenues, because I see that the artistic and literary returns are much greater than millions of pounds," the actor continued.

Theaters in Egypt used to be in the lead decades ago, and the art gradually weakened and vanished over the past few years despite attempts of revival launched by some private and public theaters to maintain the valuable art regardless of financial returns.

The actor said that Britain, France, China and other countries pay much more interest in theatre, hoping his attempts and those of other artists can start "a new era" for the revival of theatre in the country.

Although the audience weren't many, Mahmoud Nasr, a young man in his 20's, went backstage to shake hands and take a picture with the sole actor, saying he came from the Suez province to the capital Cairo to enjoy the show.

"I love this poem so much as it narrates parts of Egypt's history and stirs up patriotic sentiments. Also the background screen display and the dark and colorful lighting provided a suitable, calm mood for enjoying the show," the young man said.

At the Opera House in downtown Cairo, Egypt concluded Tuesday evening the 9th session of the Egyptian National Theater Festival that included 41 shows for free over two weeks, which is a constant national attempt to maintain the popularity of theater, known in Egypt as "the Father of Arts."

"We cannot follow the degrading public taste for arts. I believe it's not the public taste to blame but some opportunists, who want to make fast money and have ruined the public taste, using cinema and theater for trade," said Nashwa Moharram, a philosophy professor who won best playwright award for her play "the Zombie and the Ten Sins."

"I have seen people overwhelmed by the show although it is in classical Arabic," the playwright said at the Opera House, noting that the work fits all levels of audience from cultured ones to ordinary people.

Moharram added that it is a dream for each artist to provide a serious and honest work that also achieves a financial success. "However, it's a far-fetched dream and in most cases a true artist gives up the financial part."

Mahmoud Gamal, a young writer as the Egyptian National Theater Festival's best playwright in 2013 and 2015, believes that an artist should not look for financial gains when trying to create valuable art.

"Money can be gotten elsewhere. But when you create real art, do not expect money," Gamal said, adding Egyptian theater's popularity is on the rise.

The best costumes award of the festival went to the staged classical Arabic version of Russian novelist Maxim Gorky's "the Lower Depths," starring a group of young actors mostly university students.

"The Lower Depths talks about the people of the lowest bottom of the society. Through our performance, we tried to illustrate that those people are the same everywhere in the world, sharing the same sufferings, worries and aspirations," said Mohamed Hassan, one of the actors.

He explained that every piece of work in Egypt has its own fans, from low-level movies to sophisticated classical plays. "However, unlike what's circulated in the media, people really seek valuable arts."

His co-star Ismail Ibrahim said that they do "art for art's sake," adding this kind of art mainly targets the audience, neither the awards nor the funds. "Thus, it appeals to the audience and gradually gains more fans."

The actor, also an engineering university student, argued that university theater is one of the factors that help to revive theater art in Egypt.

"The choice is made in the beginning. Does the artist take it as a source of income by accepting low level works for money or as a source of enjoyment through providing valuable and elegant art?" he added.

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