The Atelier addressed early career artistic directors, programmers and curators working for art organisations or festivals, as well as those working in a programme related department in a festival.
22 emerging and expert festival leaders, cultural activists, and artists from Afghanistan, Belgium, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Malawi, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and Yemen have been selected to participate. You can find a full list of participants here and their bios below.
Abdul-Hakim Hamidi is an award-winning writer, playwright, and theatre director from Afghanistan. His written work ranges from short stories, plays, and screenplays to social, cultural, and political articles published on the websites, weekly, and his personal blog. His human rights activities go back to the exile when he was living in Iran as a refugee. Due to his activities for Afghan refugees’ rights, he was arrested by Iranian police, persecuted, and jailed.
In 2004, after almost two decades of living in exile, he returned to Afghanistan with his family, while his father died in exile. With the successive coups, wars, and jihads against the Soviet Union, and later the destructive civil war between the Mujahedeen, and then the Taliban, over several decades (1978-2001) Afghanistan had become a ruin in every sense of the word.
In addition to these ruins, millions killed and disabled, refugees, and internally displaced persons were the result of these protracted wars. Abdul-Hakim Hamidi thought that in these circumstances, the most important intellectual concern of the people is probably the painful past and the question of how to deal with the past. Later he understood that dealing with the past is not as important as building and constructing the future based on human rights and human dignity.
Therefore, he started his activities of human rights, especially for women’s and children’s rights as a human rights defender. In consultation with a number of colleagues, he established the Simorgh Film Association of Culture and Art (SFACA) in Herat province. Because the language of art is an easy, understandable tool to employ in a society where the vast majority is illiterate. For almost 10 years, he has been involved in social development programs at Simorgh Film Association in Herat, Kabul, Bamiyan, and Kunduz. As a general director and artistic director of SFACA, he has produced short and long films; TV serials with human rights focus, specifically addressing women’s rights.
These programs have included workshops, educational theater for capacity building, human rights, stable democracy, and elections. The main subjects that he considered were women’s and children's rights; sexual abuse and rape, the value of individuals participating in elections and voting; education for all; the role of education in the empowerment of women and young girls; conflict resolution; and empowerment in areas of conflict and post-war recovery. He did these activities through youth outreach and creating local artistic groups using theater as a means of communication across cultural borders.
He and his group participated in some national and international theatre festivals to speak out and address the situation of women in Afghanistan, especially during the civil war; for instance in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 in New Delhi and Mumbai, India with different performances- in May 2012 at black sea international theatre festival, Trabzon, Turkey- and in August 2012 at women international playwright conference, Stockholm, Sweden.
In addition, he participated to some international conferences to speak out about human rights situation in Afghanistan. These conference held in the USA, the Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium (European parliament) and the UK.
Due to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, He was forced to leave Afghanistan for Paris in 2015 with the support of the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN). Upon his arrival, he started his Master at Sciences Po, Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) with the cooperation of Mairie de Paris. Currently, he is preparing for his PhD at College de France with the cooperation of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).
Analu Bambirra holds a degree in Film and Audiovisual from Centro Universitário UNA, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Partner at Partisane Filmes, she works in the fields of executive production, curation and distribution. She was an assistant producer at Anavilhana from 2014 to 2021, having worked on several short and feature films. Currently, after specializing in institutional procedures at federal level, she is a project consultant at the company. She is the curator and artistic director of the Arab Women’s Film Festival in Brazil.
Anna Nerman Sylla
Anna Nerman Sylla is a Swedish woman with a background as a circusartist. She has dedicated her whole life to this art form and she sincerely believes and knows that one can change the world through circus. Her educations are within circus (as an artist) and how to use circus/clown as a tool of communication. Her first 20 years were based on performing with circus at festivals around the world but 10 years ago she swapped side of the stage. She has been at Cirkus Cirkör since then, developing circus as an educational tool within schools and also held lectures and workshops in how to use the circus spirit in your non circus work/life. Now she is working with bigger productions and this comming movement of Knitting Peace.
Annika Rachor is a cultural practitioner, performance artist and curator based in Hildesheim, Germany and Kampala, Uganda. In 2019 she initiated the International Festival The Walls We Built. Main topics of her curational and performative work are identity, home, walls and borders. Through her work she is aiming to build up a platform of exchange for artists from Europe and East-Africa. In 2021 she founded together with other cultural practitioners from Uganda, Rwanda, and Germany the PENGO International Cultural and Artistic Network, which is aiming to find new sustainable forms of international collaboration.
Aya Nabulsi is the Executive Director of Al Balad Theatre and Al Balad Music Festival in Amman – Jordan. She has been working in the arts and culture scene, especially in the music festival field for the past 10 years. Aya works on the three annual festivals held by Al Balad Theatre namely: Baladak – graffiti and street art festival; Hakaya – storytelling festival; and Al Balad Music Festival. She also works as an artistic manager consultant for local and regional bands. Aya represents Al Balad Theatre and Al Balad Music Festival in a variety of workshops, meetings, and international festivals. Furthermore, she worked on festivals as a cross-partner and festival manager in the region, such as Beirut & Beyond – Lebanon, Carthage Music Days (JMC) – Tunisia, and VISA for Music – Morocco.
Ester Torres Falcato Simões
Ester Torres Falcato Simões is the artistic director of STORMOPKOMST, dutch for a storm is coming, an innovative arts festival for children and adults in Belgium. She holds a degree in art history. Ester has experience in communication and production and worked for several cultural and private organisations. Her interests include user journey and experience on- and offline, inclusion and fair pay.
Hoyeon Lee is a cultural practitioner, producer in Performing Arts and Creator based in the Republic of Korea. In 2018 she created the collective group YSC(Young Sauna Club, www.youngsaunaclub.com), which is constantly working on performance and immersive theatre/contents. Based on performing arts, YSC has been co-working with other genres such as media, installation arts and sharing contemporary concerns with the audience. She is a producer of 2021 street arts education programs in SSACC(Seoul Street Arts Creation Center). Through Street arts, She is interested in creating relationships with society and forming social bonds by changing familiar perceptions of public space.
Currently, her interest is a relationship between the environment and performing arts/festivals. She is taking time to redefine the role of art and festivals by using the desire to meet audiences face-to-face in the Pandemic situation, and continues to study various art platforms and technologies.
Kassem Istanbouli is Lebanese street theater performer, actor, comedian, and theater director. He graduated from the Lebanese University of Fine Arts in 2009 in Theatre Acting and Direction and continued reaching Master 1 in the same major in 2014. Kassem Istanbouli has founded “Tiro Association for Arts” that organized a Short Films Festival in Lebanon every December for 4 days since 2014 and International Theatre and Music Festival in the South of Lebanon. Moreover, he had Restored 3 cinemas in the South of Lebanon with his team of volunteers since 2014. He became a project manager for the artistic projects in Tiro Association for Arts since 2018.
Lisa Lejczyk, from France, lives in Belgium since 2019 where she tries to participate to many theater projects. She started to study at ULB in september 2020 in the Master Arts du Spectacle Vivant. One person of her class created the Fidae Festival and she joined the organization team.
Maha Nasser is a Yemeni journalist. She graduated from the Department of Media, Radio and Television. She worked with the local radio in the cities of Taiz, as well as television and newspapers. She came to Sweden in 2018 through ICORN as a journalist at risk due to the war in my country. She has been living in Sweden for 3 years. She is currently working with Vxonews, as a news editor and reporter. Recently she released her first book in Swedish, called A Woman's Mistake, which describes violence against women in tribal society. Her great talent and dream is to become a international singer and sing for love and peace in several languages. She is now trying to fulfill her dream as she started singing through her YouTube channel. She believes that our lives are a mission and we should help and inspire others. She has a great interest in cultural diversity and this is what she is trying to achieve during her stay in Sweden.
Matjamela Motloung 25yrs aptitude in various spheres of theatre in both social development and commercial work is exceptional. He is a theatre Director, Producer and Trainer who was discovered through the Market Theatre Standard Bank Arts Administration program in 1998. And he advanced to different roles at the Market Theatre for 13yrs culminating in him being the head of Market Theatre Laboratory from 2008 – 2011. The Market Theatre Laboratory; founded in 1988, is the premiere theatre training facility of its kind in Southern Africa.
Among Matjamela’s many success at the Lab, he founded the Ramolao Makhene Theatre in honor of the late actor, a space dedicated to producing the best of community theatre arts annually, achieved full accreditation for the theatre school bringing the school on par with some of the leading training institutions in the country.
Over the last 10 years Matjamela has worked across the country with different institutions and organizations including recently as the Resident Director for Development for the Playhouse Theatre Company. He is the founder and director of Ruban Noir Pty Ltd, founded in 2012, a company with a focus on assisting previously disadvantaged artists to gain access to the professional stages with a particular focus on women development and stories from Africa and the Diaspora. He assisted in developing the artistic program at the Steve Biko Centre in 2012 and later appointed CEO Masumpa Heritage Hub in Umtata in the Eastern Cape (2015-17)
Matjamela first trained at the Market Theatre Laboratory, then interned with the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. Motloung’s training involved working with The Royal National Studio (UK) Peter Brooke Company (FR). Over the last 20 years Matjamela has worked extensively with managing community arts programs, training actors for both TV and Stage and producing theatre plays.
Matjamela is now back in his home community of Polokong in the Vaal Triangle where is sharing his extensive experience in using theatre as a tool for social change, having developed training programs to deal with diverse social problems in communities across South Africa.
Matjamela is the currently running the Community Arts Mentorship Program, for the Playhouse Company in Durban South Africa.
Mina El Naggar
Founder & Managing Director of MEDFEST EGYPT, Dr. Mina El Naggar is a Clinical nutrition specialist, member of the ESPEN society for clinical nutrition. He is an award-winning filmmaker and an actor with numerous roles in TV & film. Graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor degree in Medicine and Surgery from MUST University (Misr University for Science and Technology) & PMP certified. Throughout his career as a physician, he had a compelling drive to transform what he learned in medicine about human illness and suffering into stories told through film and stage plays.
Milena Gehrt studied History and Culture of the Middle East at Freie Universität Berlin due to her passion for contemporary art and art history of the Islamic cultures. Her interest in art and politics, led her to focus her academic and professional pursuits on the cultural, aesthetic, social, and political contexts of the Middle East and the Arab world. Beirut is her second home. She arrived in Lebanon as a part of the festival team of Zoukak Theatre. The following two years, Milena worked as a project assistant for several festivals and exhibitions at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Being engaged with independent festivals in Berlin and Beirut, and the intention to be further involved in the practices of local art institutions, she moved back to Beirut. In the events and developments of the October 17 Uprising, Milena researched about reclaiming public spaces through art interventions. Milena is working again with Zoukak Theatre as a project coordinator, and will start her Master of Art History and Curating at the American University Beirut in the upcoming fall.
Moein Mohebalian is a theater lecturer, researcher and playwright, with a Master of Theater Acting from the Art University of Tehran.
Mutaz Abdulrahman is a cultural manager working with Goethe Institute Iraq. He has studied media in Damascus, Syria, and Theatre in Oran, Algeria. He has extensive experience both in media and art production in Syria and Iraq. For the past years, his work has focused on cultural projects with a social dimension: for example, he planned and implemented the Goethe project “Yalla Shano” to introduce theatre and performing arts to children and youth in refugee camps in Kurdistan Iraq thereby fostering creative development and social cohesion. Similarly, he planned and implemented the projects “Ideas Box” and “Guan Eden” and is currently preparing other projects, all concentrating on using arts as a tool for social transition and dialogue.
Cultural Manager and Theater Practitioner, Nada Abdelwahab graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Alexandria in 2016. 2012–2014 she started working as an actor and a trainer in the Egyptian National Project of “Theater of the Oppressed”, conducting workshops and performing in Egypt and Morocco. From 2014–2016, she was the programme coordinator of Theater Is A Must forum and in 2018/2019, she became the executive director of Hewar Company for Independent Theater and Performing Arts and Theater Is A Must forum in Alexandria. The forum is mainly concerned with presenting contemporary political and socio-political theater productions from the MENA region and Europe created in the wake of the Arab Spring. With Hewar, she realised the Egyptian-German multidisciplinary theater performance “Music for Unstageable Theater”. In 2018/2019, she was the co-director of “Staging Walls” within the framework of the Tandem Shaml Programme. “Staging Walls” was a year-long Egyptian-Italian collaboration project that produced a research-based multidisciplinary theatre production. As a member of the Bosch Alumni Network, she was part of “The Round Table Funding Structures” project in 2019. Nada Abdelwahab is now a member of the Goethe-Institut Cairo’s cultural programme department team. She has also taken over a consultancy role with Theater Is A Must forum.
Nthangwanika Kondowe, a Malawian born in 1999, is a Finance student who’s taken a keen interest in different avenues of art including writing, videography as well as media marketing. Nthangwanika’s experience in media and event management began with a Chino-South African company called Chefobear - a retail clothing company.
In her role as a brand ambassador for Chefobear, she has gathered experience in social media marketing and event production, both of which have helped her exercise her interpersonal skills and affirm her love for the media space.
Nthangwanika volunteered as the Events Manager for By Ntha Media - a creative media company, and later promoted to Chief Operating Officer, while also establishing herself as a respected Artist Manager, where she is known for her creative, strategic and organizational expertise. In her roles, she is committed to setting a new standard for the media and entertainment industry in Malawi. A pioneer in her own right, who directed and produced a documentary - EST 1999, at the age of 19, feels that her willingness to try new things and make unprecedented moves puts her in an especially ideal position to become an industry leader. She is also the current project manager of the Malawi Hip Hop Awards which were successfully launched in December 2020.
Nthangwanika is an aspiring polyglot who speaks 5 languages including English, Swahili and Chinese. Driven by her passion for languages, she takes a particular interest in music, which in her own view, is a universal language. She is strongly passionate about advancing the Malawian brand through music and media, with hopes to own her own media company one day.
Shabani Ramadhani is a full name. He is Tanzanian by birth , musician, Base player, songs writer and festival organizer as well. Basically, he started learning music when he was 15 years of age. He remembers taking classes of drums, guitar rhythm and base guitar that thus became his favorite musical instruments up to now. Having completed the training , he then participated in a wide range of bands where he got an opportunity to demonstrate his performance in various musical concerts in Tanzania and other countries too. In addition to that, he has also been a teacher of music in Tanzania especially in House of talents (THT). After that, he founded Marahaba music expo in Bujumbura and this latter allowed to serve as an ambassador of Visa for music in Morocco and in a range of music events throughout Africa as well as Europe. Apart from that , he then underwent some short trainings in music industry and cultural practioners in different countries such as U.K, Tanzania, Uganda, Ivory Coast , Malawi, Morocco, Mayotte Island , Egypt , Addis Abbaba in Ethiopia, Burundi and Kenya . And more importantly than that, he did some Internships regarding music industry in British council in Tanzania and British council in London financially funded by European Union . This is Shabani Ramadhani. Thank you very much indeed.
Sunjea Jay Lee
Theater and video director, producer, art curator, graphic designer and painter. Founding member and artistic director of “Production 377” a multidisciplinary art company based in Jeju Island, South Korea. During its three years of existence “P_377” has created and produced theater performances, videos, music concerts, fine art, photography, media and art archive exhibitions locally and internationally . During her studies at Chung-And University’s Department of Theater she met theater director Mr. Kim Kwang-bo who invited her to work in his company Cheong-woo Theater. Immediately after she began leading workshops in voice, speech and stage movement for the company members using her individual creative techniques. After leaving the Chungwo Theater she founded her own theater group “Theater Liquor” collaborating with artist from different disciplines. Through the development of innovative multidisciplinary projects she faced the limitations imposed by the main stream Korean professional theater and decided to move to Berlin where she lived from 2014 to 2018. This experience gave her a wider spectrum of theater possibilities and a broad vision on world wide artistic tendencies. During these years she begun to study fine arts and painting with the German artist Ilona Ottenbreit as part of her own creative and artistic development. Up on returning to Korea she stablished herself in Jeju Island, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site at Korea’s southernmost point, where she founded the multidisciplinary art company “Production 377“ with two objectives in mind: to develop new work based on Korean Mythology and traditions, and to help expose new emerging creative artists. “P_377” offers a variety of meaningful opportunities for talented young artist to show their work in selected venues, and serves as an artistic platform for Korean artists to enter the international arena and collaborate with other artists from different nationalities. Miss Lee was also an active member of the art group KOPAS (Korean Experimental Art Spirit) and in 2019 she was curator and artistic producer JIEAF (Jeju International Experimental Art Festival). She is also a member of “Visualidades” a multimedia director’s group based in Mendoza, Argentina that promotes international cooperation among video and media directors. Miss Sunjea Jay Lee is presently committed to the creation of an International multidisciplinary art festival based on Jeju’s rich mythology and exuberant Nature.
Szymon Adamczak is a theatre practitioner, process-oriented dramaturg with almost 10 years of experience, writer and researcher in HIV-related culture. He has graduated from DAS Theatre in Amsterdam and studied at Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań. As an artist-researcher is affiliated with Biennale Warszawa where he develops program on HIVAIDS in Poland/Eastern Europe. He works as dramaturg/program consultant for STUDIO theatregallery in Warsaw, previously he was an in-house dramaturg of National Stary Theatre in Kraków. In the coming Szymon is starting a pre-PHD program THIRD at DAS Graduate School in Amsterdam and will co-lead a practice-based study into queer pedagogies at Amsterdam University of Theatre and Dance, meant for queer identifying students and stuff.
Katsi Valia is a performer, theatre-maker and writer. Her work is mainly informed by physical theatre and dance canon. Her BA was in International Relations and Arabic at SOAS, University of London, and so she is wanting to create theatre that is socially and politically-conscious and addresses the inequalities in the theatre industry and the world more generally. She also co-runs a multi-lingual blog (www.kandaka.blog) that uses different visual artistic mediums like photography, illustration, film, music and writing to shed light on global issues relating to intersectional feminism and alternative forms of activism. She is currently applying for Acting and Theatre-making MAs. Generally, she considers herself to still be an emerging artist (she was formerly a part of the International Theatre Institute's Network of Emerging Artist Professionals division) and doesn't yet have much experience of festival making but this is something she would love to get into. Currently she works at Curzon cinema in London and as a tutor for the IB. In the past, she has been in theatre productions with Kiln and Arcola theatre and has made her own solo work for Almeida theatre's 'Shifting Tides' Festival and Total Insight's film 'Crossing the Threshold'. She has also been a performer and co-deviser in two site-specific, immersive theatre pieces with theatre company Persona Collective and has made her own solo cabaret show in a digital form through Carnesky's Radical Cabaret School. She is also currently training with Drama Classes London and The Unseen Drama school and just finished a Dramaturgy Lab on Brecht's Breadshop.
Youssef Soubai was born in Moroccan Sahara, he is a production manager and international relations coordinator in FADAE ATHINA organization Tinghir and manager in cultural affairs and preserving heritage service in the regional council of Daraa Tafilalt in Errachidia. He is preparing a Ph.D. dissertation on heritage management and preserving cultural diversity at the University of Fez. He received a grant from The Arab Council for the Social Sciences, Lebanon to conduct a research paper about cultural justice and was selected to participate in a cultural policy workshop initiated by Almawred Althaqafy in Lebanon. He was the vice president of international festival of storytelling and popular arts in Zagora for 4 years. He participated as well in several MOOC and workshops and conferences in managing the arts, cultural investment, strategic planning on arts, creative industries in the digital era, arts marketing, living human treasures, cultural diplomacy… in Morocco, Sultanate Oman, Egypt, and Tunisia and he has recently published several scientific articles on creative industries, censorship on artistic expression in Facebook.