Elixir Festival celebrates arts from Arab world

Published: 10 March 2024
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Ruba Shamshoum
The Olive Jar Credit: Ellie Kurttz
The Ayoub Sisters

West London multi-arts venue Grand Junction will once again host a programme of events by international and local artists showcasing theatre, music and storytelling drawn from the Middle East and North Africa.

Running from 12 April to 2 May, Elixir Festival’’s highlights include new play The Olive Jar, a piece looking at the heritage of Londoners from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Algeria and Saudi Arabia made through workshops with the venue’s local communities.

Creative and community director Lucy Foster said, “the word 'Elixir' is rooted in the Arabic term 'al-iksīr', and we chose it for the profound meaning it brings around healing and its power to remedy ills, something that is much needed in the world right now. The festival line-up is a celebration of the brilliance of artists from the Arab world and Anatolia working in the UK today, continuously broadening perceptions and enriching our cultural landscape.”

There is a wide range of events including:

  • Ruba Shamshoum—a Palestinian singer offering a unique fusion of poetic dream pop, jazz and middle eastern soul.
  • Jamarabia Live Music Sessions (Aleppo Tarab Re-Imagined)—an evening of music inspired by the Tarab repertoire of Aleppo in Syria and featuring classical Arabic Tarab songs and poems.
  • To The Table Eid Music Special—a special Eid food sharing meal with storytelling, music and creative activities.
  • The Ayoub Sisters—the Scottish / Egyptian award-winning sister duo perform songs from their critically acclaimed album, Arabesque—a celebration and tribute to music from the Arab world.
  • Olcay Bayir—described by The Guardian as one of the finest, most intriguing singers on the British world music scene, Olcay blends her Anatolian heritage with dynamic grooves and funky rhythms, performed in Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Greek.
  • A Night Curated by Young Shubback—a one-night-only takeover presenting events relevant to young people's cultural experience.

Elixir Festival is created in partnership with Arts Canteen and Shubbak Festival and takes place at Grand Junction, a Grade I listed former church, St Mary Magdalene’s, found at Rowington Close, London W2 5TF.

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