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MES Cairo Celebrates 25 Years by Staging “Aida”

By Sawsan L. Dajani
MES Cairo Celebrates 25 Years by Staging “Aida”

The growth of the Modern English School (MES) Cairo has been astounding in its magnitude, having opened to serve 26 pupils and currently counting an enrollment of 2,100 students in the British, American, and IBDP sections. MES Cairo’s development has been bewildering in its intensity and incredible in its success. Year after year, the vision to provide a school both known and respected for its academic rigor but also for its delivery of a holistic education has never wavered. Integral to the identity of the school has been the promotion of high-quality, in-depth visual arts programs, sporting opportunities for all, and huge support for the performing arts from the day the youngsters start school until they graduate from the MES Cairo family.
This year sees the school celebrating 25 years of quality education in Cairo. Intense growth has not been without its challenges. Many lessons have been learned along the way, including how important it is to be adaptable, to embrace change, and to look optimistically ahead to the future.
What better way to celebrate this special year than by staging the Elton John and Tim Rice musical “AIDA” on home ground? Thanks to the artistic vision of the performing arts teams, the support of the Directors and Management, and the cooperation of international teachers from all sections of the school, an unforgettable experience was enjoyed on three consecutive nights in the open air by over 1,800 audience members.
The stage—six times as big as any Broadway theater stage—was erected on the sports pitch, with tiered seating. The vibrant set design took the MES Cairo concept of stage spectacular to another level. We were treated to a feast of color and thrilling moods, with a laser light-flooded pyramid, a sail boat that moved across the arena carrying singing performers, and many other visual and sound effects, which provoked gasps from the audience.
This was a real team effort involving over 300 performers, as well as many others participating in some capacity, both on and off the stage. There were outstanding performances from the main cast, which showed great stage presence while handling the wide-ranging vocal challenges with flexibility; from the joint Primary and Secondary choirs, which sang with skill and commitment; from the sharp dancers, performing the difficult choreography with precision and efficiency; as well as from students handling the complicated light and sound technology.
The final scene of Act 1 was recognized as being highly symbolic in the MES Cairo context. A group of returning MESconian alumni stood on the pyramid steps as ancient gods sang a supportive chorus. These alumni performers once shone on the MES Cairo stage at some time in the past, making this moment so poignant on several levels. Not only were the gods of ancient Egypt smiling down on Radames and Aida but they, as alumni, were also smiling down in approval of a place where they, too, once shone brightly. They chose to return “home” to take part in Aida because they fully recognized how they themselves, now young adults, still benefit today from the creative strength and myriad of opportunities offered to MES Cairo students.
It was unusually cold for the season, but every performer, technician, and crew member displayed true grit, shrugging off the weather to gave three focused and flawless performances, leaving the audience stunned by their maturity and professionalism.
This professionalism is what prompted the famous Egyptian actor, Tarek Helmy, to post what became a viral comment on social media about how impressed he was by the show and how the MES Cairo students are a shining example to Egypt as a whole. He encouraged the Ministers of Culture and Tourism to witness the brilliance of MES Cairo’s production.
What better way for the MES Cairo family to celebrate this 25th year!

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