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Liverpool Arab Arts Festival

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Ask yourself ‘what do I know’? at the UK’s biggest annual celebration of Arab culture, as Liverpool Arab Arts Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Both challenging and hopeful, this year’s LAAF theme encourages audiences to step away from the assumptions they may have made about Arab life and explore its reality through the lived experience, expressed through music, dance, visual art, theatre, film and spoken word.

Station House Opera and Artsadmin team up to bring At Home in Gaza and London, a performance documenting the lives of two people separated by great political, economic and physical divides and inviting the audience to explore ideas of home and the hidden realities of life in these two locations.

This year’s event also features the premiere of What Do I Know, a performance piece inspired by the poetry of Liverpool / Yemeni poet Amina Atiq and looking at the effect of war in Yemen. The work will be performed by acclaimed composer and singer-songwriter Ana Silvera.

Film highlights include the UK premiere of Silence in Exile and documentary It’s Only the Beginning, which documents a reunion between six Arab women filmmakers as they meet in Berlin in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. These films will be screened back-to-back at FACT.

British artist Rachel Gadsden will reveal her Unlimited International commission and collaboration with Palestinian artist Ali Saeid Ashour, It Was Paradise.

Located in London, Liverpool and the West Bank, and inspired by Palestinian poet and author Mahmoud Darwish’s poem ‘Under Siege’, the collaboration addresses global concerns about migration, the lingering flight of refugees, as well as the isolation of disabled and bereaved people. Gadsden will also appear in conversation at the Open Eye Gallery to talk about the work, which is sure to be a must-see for anyone looking to dig a little deeper.

If you’re looking for something to do as a family, British Libyan artist and graphic novelist Asia Alfasi to the Bluecoat Artist Studio as artist-in-residence for the festival; she’s holding a series of workshops and drop-in sessions where anyone can explore the themes of her work, inspired by her childhood in Libya.

As always, LAAF 2018 has a vast musical programme including singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi, the London Syrian Ensemble, supergroup 47SOUL and Zarkan. Danish-Palestinian percussionist Simona Abdallah is also on board for the famous LAAF Family Day, which also includes face-painting, children’s crafts and interactive storytelling sessions.

See the full lineup, and buy tickets, at the official LAAF website.

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