Friday, September 25, 2015

More on Shakespeare in Kabul

The show was ten years ago, the first book about it (as this blog reported) was three years ago, and it's still not Arabic-related.  But never mind.  Here's another book:

 Coming soon to a bookstore near you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Academic article on Arab Shakespeares for British audiences

Happy to report that three years after the theatre festivals it analyzes, the article I co-authored with Saffron Walkling and Raphael Cormack for the Routledge journal Shakespeare is live: 
Margaret Litvin, Saffron Walkling & Raphael Cormack (2015): Full of noises: when “World Shakespeare” met the “ArabSpring.” Shakespeare.

We look from various angles at Ashtar's Richard II, Monadhil Daood's Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad, and APA's Macbeth: Laila and Ben--A Bloody History.
First 50 readers can download an eprint here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Arab Shakespeares at WSC 2016

The World Shakespeare Congress has posted its program for next summer's WSC, to be held in Britain.We have an amazingly diverse set of topics (translation, performance, film, plays, sonnets, sources...) on our Arab Shakespeares panel, and I'm happy to see some dynamic younger scholars joining the conversation.

“Re-Casting Shakespeare: Translations, Adaptations, and Performances Across the Arab World”
Katherine Hennessey (University of Warwick/Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom), Margaret Litvin (Boston University, United States), Graham Holderness (University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom), Rafik Darragi (University of Tunis, Tunisia), David C. Moberly (University of Minnesota, United States), Noha Ibraheem (Cairo University, Egypt), Paulo Horta (New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Monday, August 3, 2015

In Unfair Palestine (Romeo, Juliet, and localization)

Here is the first book I was ever asked to blurb: Tom Sperlinger's just published memoir Romeo and Juliet in Palestine. He was at Al-Quds University in the West Bank for just five months in 2013. It's a pretty good read and (most importantly) tries to be honest about its limits. The Guardian liked it too. A good excerpt was published at Mondoweiss back in 2013.

I find it interesting that most of the students aren't interested in Arab-Jewish Romeo-and-Juliet combos. Their minds run more toward a union between two Palestinians, one with Jerusalem ID and the other with West Bank ID. Isn't that star-cross'd enough?

On the subject of Palestinian adaptations, here's a 2008 film called In Fair Palestine made by high school students at the Ramallah Friends School. Also an intra-Arab story. You can buy it online and watch a clip here:

Of course, there have also been lots of adaptations that take the play in an Arabs-and-Jews direction, including a just-post-Oslo bilingual co-production in Jerusalem by the (Jewish) Khan Theatre and the (Arab) Kasaba Theatre (see, e.g., this admiring Baltimore Sun writeup).

[Update  9/8/15: I just found a video with some excerpts online. Enjoy!]

It has even been done in a comic vein, as in the short falafel musical West Bank Story.

Translator and theatre scholar Avraham Oz, with whom Parviz Partovi and I are co-writing an article on Shakespeare in the Middle East, makes a good point about Romeo and Juliet as a vehicle for Israeli-Palestinian issues:

Whereas Shakespeare makes a point to emphasize that none remembers the origin of the ancient feud between the Montagues and Capulets (not fortuitously omitting the one vague reference to that origin in Brooke’s poem), the cause of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is far from being unknown. If that be the rationale of reading the Shakespearean text, a play such as Troilus and Cressida would better fit the symbolic analogy.
He adds:
When, however, the latter was mounted at the Habima in 1980, Rumanian director David Essrig revived in it his successful production formerly created in Bucharest, and what could have served a topical political allegory for the Middle East conflict reminded one of an East European fable, which was missed by the Israeli audience and removed from stage after a few performances.
So it goes.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Al-Bassam's Arab Shakespeare Trilogy and my two interviews with him

Sorry I've been neglecting this blog a bit. Should have some exciting publication news for you soon.
Meanwhile: Did I forget to mention that Sulayman Al-Bassam's Arab Shakespeare Trilogy came out last fall from Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, comprising the texts to his Al-Hamlet Summit, Richard III: An Arab Tragedy, and The Speaker's Progress? Intro by Graham Holderness. You can get your epub or hard copy direct from Bloomsbury. As you do so, notice that for "theme" they've categorized it under "Conflict, Other Cultures, Society."

Thanks largely to Holderness, subtitled videos of all the plays in the trilogy are available, along with a lot of secondary material including my work, on the Global Shakespeares site.

I've also published two interviews with Al-Bassam recently, a really fun one in the Palgrave collection Shakespeare and the Ethics of Appropriation (adapted from a really fun late-night conversation in Beirut in 2011 and yes, that's his Richard III on the cover, and an updated version of my essay on his trilogy is in the book too)

and a somewhat duller one in the PMLA special issue on Tragedy.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Filling in Iraqi Hamlet history

Just came across this article from a year ago (June 2014) by `Awad `Ali on the Iraqi site al-Mu'tamar (in Arabic): Hamlet in the Arab Experimental Experience. A few details on experimental Iraqi Hamlet productions by Hamid Muhammad Jawad (1967) and Salah al-Qasab (1980) as well as the more recent هاملت البابلي (Hamlet of Babel) directed by Muhammad Hussein Habib (2009). In Arabic.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hamlet's Trial (offshoot play)

For my own reasons I just Googled غولدنشترن to find out who besides Mamduh `Adwan uses this spelling for Hamlet's friend.  I came across a 2010 PDF script for a offshoot play called Hamlet's Trial, which "takes up where the splendid William Shakespeare left off." By one Ala'a al-Gharbawi.  It's also at this blog.  It includes a very brief Author's Note "for those who have never read Shakespeare's play before."  Anyone have details?  No time to read it now, but maybe you'd like to.