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Project Yourself: Cairo’s Raw Talent Gets to See the Light

Project Yourself: Cairo’s Raw Talent Gets to See the Light
    written by
    Soraya Morayef

    If you take a
    superficial look at Cairo’s perfoming arts scene, either by catching a play starring Dolly Shaheen or by watching the latest curvaceous non-singer pout and
    wiggle her way through a music video, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Cairo lacks promising
    talent.

    Cynics will
    undoubtedly be converted after attending Project Yourself, a monthly gathering
    where young and local amateurs perform stand-up, spoken word, puppet plays, songs,
    dance, meditation, caricaturing, and pretty much anything they want to in a
    warm, casual and supportive environment. Take a look around you; you’ll see
    Egyptians and foreigners of all age groups, from the school students to the
    corporate professionals; what they all share in common is a desire to entertain
    and to be entertained.

    The brainchild of
    23-year-old designer Mariam El Quessny, Project Yourself first launched in
    December 2009, where around forty people performed at the Cellar
    Door Bistro
    in Maadi.

    El Quessny used word of mouth and Facebook to attract
    attendees and participants. Her formula was simple: if you want to perform,
    send in a short description of what you plan to show and on the day of the
    show, your name will be called in the order determined by El Quessny. You have
    seven minutes to perform; what you do with those minutes is completely up to
    you.

    The first show
    was so successful, that the following shows attracted a crowd of more than 200 people,
    which forced El Quessny to relocate to the much more spacious Makan in Downtown Cairo.

    ‘Makan is warm
    and just has great energy,’ says El Quessny, ‘It’s not big, but I don’t think
    we want this to get too big; intimate, friendly and warm is the atmosphere
    we’re aiming for.’

    Following a brief
    move to Darb1718
    for its fifth show, Project Yourself will be back at Makan this Thursday with a
    slightly different formula. This time, it’s on a first-come-first-serve basis for
    performers, which is sure to add a sense of
    unpredictability to the night’s roundup.

    Even if you’re
    scared of performing, it’s hard to have stage fright in the cosy and amiable
    atmosphere at Project Yourself. Even if you’re really terrible at telling jokes
    or you sing off-key, the audience welcomes each and every performer with
    applause and words of encouragement.

    ‘What’s…amazing
    about this group is that it’s very […] accepting,’ says El Quessny, ‘So it’s
    easy to let go, be and say whatever you want.’

    So if you’ve
    always dreamt of the limelight and have a budding artist inside of you, head
    down to Makan this Thursday, and bring your friends for moral support. They’re
    bound to enjoy it as much as you. For more information check out our event
    schedule or the Project
    Yourself Facebook group
    . Admission is 30LE at the door, though if you book
    ahead; you’ll pay only 20LE. The money goes towards supporting the show and
    Makan.

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