Ayoub Kharkhash wins the Amsterdam Kleinkunst Festival with songs and stories about religion and children's tumors

Ayoub Kharkhash wins the Amsterdam Kleinkunst Festival with songs and stories about religion and children's tumors

On Saturday evening, Ayoub Kharkhash won the Jury Prize and the Audience Prize during the 37th Amsterdam Kleinkunst Festival. The jury praised the engaging way in which he combined personal history with universal themes. “He does it in a light-hearted way without being forceful or judgmental.” He is the 37th winner of the so-called AKF Sonneveld Prize, previously won by De Vliegende Panters, Yentl and de Boer and Stefano Keizers.

The charismatic Kharkhash proved to be a good storyteller during a powerful final evening. He held the audience in his grip with great calm. He talked about his religion, but we didn't have to worry that he would convert us: “I'm going to blow the roof off tonight.”

At a young age, Kharkhash was told in the mosque: “You are religious and the music is from the devil, so please don’t sing.” For years he did not dare to compose music, but fortunately times have changed. He sang and played beautifully, including about a life-changing experience in a song with a telling title: “Months with Mum in the Pediatric Oncology Ward and Then a Few More Weeks in the Oncology Ward.”

The other two finalists also achieved a high standard. Levi Gernart took home the Ramses Shafi Fund encouragement award of €2,500. He showed in a comical way how he usually succeeds in pushing his social anxiety and emotions towards an absent parent and a drowning friend into the background; With weirdly exaggerated stories, a good dose of nonchalance, and sometimes a little numbness when pumping out the tunes. Of course you can't do that for life, and you can't do it on stage either. The times when Gernart was honest led to poignant moments.

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The three finalists were evenly matched. That's why it was a little painful for the third finalist to remain without a prize. Flemish Simon Verlinden had an interesting role in which he played a seemingly naive and cheerful character with strong physical acting. “My favorite color is brown, my favorite food is soup, and I will soon travel to Macedonia.” The tidy type slowly becomes disoriented by a series of confusing phone calls: very funny. His redneck retreat from the supermarket after a conversation with an angry manager was also memorable. His compatriot Wim Helsing would be proud. The three finalists will tour extensively this fall.

The ending was nicely put together by comedian Ryan Bandai, who battled verbally throughout the evening with a somewhat stiff front row. At one point he received no response at all. Bandai: “Ma’am, have you eaten me now? silent puts?” Bandai was allowed to present the audience award, but decided to leave that to someone in the audience.

to Finalist It can be seen from October 3 to December 14, 2024. Information: www.akf.nl

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