The Arab Arts Focus at Summerhall and the New Town Theatre aims to reassess the place, purpose and future of the arts in the Arab countries. In countries torn apart by conflict and extremism, the arts become a tool for development and evolution, altering stereotypical preconceptions and opening the door to mutual understanding. Chill Habibi is a casual, intimate cabaret showcasing a selection of the work by artists from the Arab world and Scotland.
Curated and hosted by Sara Shaarawi, the AAF festival coordinator, Chill Habibi introduces a diverse array of acts from Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Morocco, who are all currently performing in shows in the city. International storyteller Mara Menzies immediately grabs our attention with chanting and audience participation before relating an original Kenyan fable. On more than one occasion, dancer and mime Bridie Gane demonstrates a knack for broad physical comedy and versatile musician Kareem Samara introduces the audience to the electro acoustic possibilities of the Oud and Arabic music, sampling vocals and mixing live on stage.
Chill Habibi is a bit of a hotchpotch of a cabaret night, held together with goodwill and an enthusiastic crowd. It also acts as a potted introduction to the AAF festival, allowing a range of artists to showcase their work to a new crowd.