‘Hammamet Nights 2020’, the next best thing to the real event

A special health protocol will be in place to help protect theatre’s audience.
Monday 13/07/2020
The Tunisian National Symphony Orchestra. (AFP)

HAMMAMAT, Tunisia – While the Hammamet International Festival is cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, viewers may find an alternative in “Hammamet Nights 2020,” which will take place from July 25 to August 22 in Hammamet Theatre.

The event will be Tunisian par excellence, with 30 cinema, music, choreography and theater shows held with audiences of no more than 350 people, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Hammamet Nights 2020 will start on July 25th, on the occasion of the Republic Day’s celebration, and the closing ceremony will be held by Tunisian artist Lotfi Bouchnak on August 22,” said Lassad Sayed, president of the International Cultural Center of Hammamet, which is organising the event.

He added that “the programme includes new projects whether by youth groups or well-known artists,” noting that it is “a challenge and at the same time a contribution to advance cultural life and support artists and workers in this field who were affected by the measures taken to combat the coronavirus.”

Sayed told The Arab Weekly that the festival’s organising committee is committed to applying stringent health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, pointing out that they had discussed the necessary measures with the country’s scientific committee.

The scientific committee with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs put in place measures to prevent the spread of the novel virus, including the use of masks, social distancing guidelines – such as leaving an open chair between audience members and providing separate paths for entry and exit – and a limit on the audience size.

Lassad Sayed, president of the International Cultural Center of Hammamet. (International Cultural Center of Hammamet facebook page)
Lassad Sayed, president of the International Cultural Center of Hammamet. (International Cultural Center of Hammamet facebook page)

Sayed said that “the organising committee divides the runways into separate areas, with 30 people in each area,” adding that “those wishing to attend the shows must wear masks and fill a document with personal data when buying tickets online and had to download the application “Ahmi” (protect) a contact-tracing app to combat coronavirus.”

“For us, the challenges that we may face is implementing the health protocol, and we count on public understanding for his sake, he added, noting that “due to the coronavirus and the measures taken, the capacity of the audience did not exceed the third.”

Since its first session in 1964, the Hammamet International Festival has gained popularity as an annual summer music and arts event. Sayed hopes that this year’s Hammamet Nights will gain the same level of attention and will be a new success for the International Cultural Centre of Hammamet.