[caption id="attachment_498" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The opening exhibition...By: Muhana al-Shamari"][/caption] Muhana al-Shamar and Nibras Fars: Annual School festival, which is run by Ministry of Education/ General Directorate of Education and Educational Activity Department in Kirkuk, ran in Kirkuk and will continue till April 2nd. The Festival provided numerous promising young actors and actresses. Several amazing shows were performed which excited the old theatre experts. However, what differentiated this year than previous years is that schools opted to present only one portrait, and some others were complaining for their works not being accepted. Shan Omer, head of Kirkuk’s general directorate of Education told Kirkuk Now, “Seven provinces have participated in this festival, which started in Kirkuk on March 27 and will continue until April 2.” The festival began with an exhibition prepared by several school artists. Neda Askar said, “72 schools participated in the exhibition. We selected one painting from each school, since the paintings were too many in previous years.” Seven General Directorates participated in the festival: Kirkuk, First Rasafa, First Karkh, Anbar, Misan, Wasit and Karbala. Zia Abid Fahan, Deputy of Kirkuk General Directorate for Sport and Educational Activities told Kirkuk Now, “We began this festival today as a part of annual plan by Education Ministry. Kirkuk was our third station after Najaf.” He also mentioned that the festival is dedicated to the work of primary and secondary school teams. He said they chose seven teams out of twenty, resulted in 14 plays. When asked about the method of selection he answered, “Free choice was clear, with the exception of those plays who couldn’t meet educational limits, since it must be in that framework. Free choice resulted in invention in the plays, assured us about the bright future of Iraq.” Kirkuk Education-Secondary phase presented a play under the title, “Those days which taste pain.” It was edited by Fazil Muhammad Halaq, directed by Erfan Sidiq. The story was about Iraqi refugees in times of Iraq-Iran war, and how were those who supported Iranian authority treated. At the end of the story, refugees decided to go back after their dire situation. The participants were all students, first time to role in plays; yet they could attract people’s attention. Sajida al-Rikabi, one of the evaluators said, “These groups are bright since they have a great ability to role in plays, although it’s their first time. But I think light and music weren’t good enough in the plays.” The evaluators were Rahim al-Musawi from Baghdad, Muhammad al-Mur’eb from Hilla, Sabida al-Rakabi from Nasiriya, Mun’em Sa’eed from Tikreet and Jawad al-Sa’edi. Muahmmad Jawad, a teacher, expressed his concern since his school’s painting wasn’t exhibited. “We participated since they asked us to do so. We were in the list which was created for all schools. But, I was surprised when I saw that our painting wasn’t exhibited although the student was here at the exhibition.” However, Neda Askar responded by saying that some painting weren’t good enough to be displayed. Hisham Shakir, who played in a play said, “Iraqi theatre has been developing very much after Iraqi war in 2003, but government’s passivity toward actors made them to leave the country to live.” He also mentioned that number of fans has reduced. “In Baghdad, we just depend on National and Rashid hall for theatre, which were built long time ago, they need to be reconstructed.” He urged government to support theatre in the country. Farhan though it’s very important to care about these activities since they are important to reveal new talents among students. He believed that this festival is a good milestone for Iraqi theatre. “Students’ standing and playing in front of their teachers is very important to reveal new talents.” He said. Akab Hamdi, director of “In times of Kings” play, the work of Anbar Education, told Kirkuk Now, “We participated with two plays. In times of Kings was about tyrants’ oppression against Iraqis through history.” The festival is going to endu up on April 2.