In a street in the western Algerian city of Oran, actor Amine Missoum gestures and calls, urging passersby to take a seat to attend a street theatre play organised by his troupe. Meanwhile, in another area of the city, a music and theatre troupe puts on a performance for a crowd gathering to hear their tunes and melodies.
In the past, the goual — Algerian Arabic for the announcer — and the meddah, the poet or storyteller, were iconic sights in the streets of the North African nation, going from city to city to meet the public.
Major Algerian dramaturges drew inspiration from them, such as Abderrahmane Kaki and Abdelkader Alloula, who were both influenced by the tradition, some say.
Mourad Senouci, the 62-year-old director of Oran’s regional theatre is trying to bring street theatre back to the city in an attempt to breathe new life into an ancestral art that has long since disappeared from most areas in Algeria.
In recent years, cities like Algiers, Bordj Boualem Arreridj and Setif have organized plays in the streets through associations, and Senouci has drawn inspiration from them and organized trial runs in 2018 and 2018 in Oran that were well received by the public.
With his troupe, he is now putting on short plays in abandoned areas, with the eventual aim of similar theatre around Algeria.