Friday, October 21, 2011

Qaddafi as Macbeth one last time

Robert Worth in the NYT:
That is what made the Libyan revolt such a riveting spectacle: unlike the other embattled Arab Spring dictators, Qaddafi showed no doubt, no instinct for compromise and self-preservation. He never really tried to stave off the end with half-hearted “reforms.” He seemed to know he was plunging himself and Libya down a tragic path, and, like Macbeth, to embrace it. Perhaps he understood that he had gone “so far in blood” that there was no turning back. In retrospect, his whole 42-year reign seemed to follow an inexorable arc toward ruin. From the handsome young revolutionary who inspired such hope in his people he transformed into the drugged, puffy-faced madman howling for slaughter in the streets of his own cities. Many Libyans told me they believed Qaddafi used black magic to keep himself in power for so long. I was almost tempted to believe it. I found Chadian witchcraft amulets in some of the weapons depots abandoned by his loyalists. Before his death, he behaved like someone who had sold his soul to the devil, and, like Faust, was waiting to be dragged down to Hell.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Video of our conversation at BU

BU's media services people used a new program called Echo 360 to capture the conversation in Boston last Wednesday between Sulayman Al-Bassam, Graham Holderness, and me.  Watch it here: : http://echo360.bu.edu:8081/ess/echo/presentation/7a568a3f-fce4-45ba-b2a1-9c119488e55e
Apologies for the weird focus on the video - I think everyone is still getting the hang of the new technology.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Preview - Speaker's Progress in Boston

"How do you make a play about an abstract idea like change?"  Sulayman Al-Bassam speaks to the Boston Globe.

Judging by the dress rehearsal I saw last night, there are still some technical things to be ironed out before tonight's opening (never mind the idea of change - the real issue is that these guys are scrambling for provisional closure, editing to the last minute!), some meanings to be nailed down, but the play has an amazing energy.

Boston people: come see the show and any of the myriad post-show or para-show events at ArtsEmerson! Reminder: you can also see Sulayman and me in discussion with Graham Holderness at BU this afternoon, 12-2.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coverage of Al-Bassam's Speaker's Progress in New York

Very favorable New York Times review of the New York performance of The Speaker's Progress at BAM last week; Al-Bassam's own "wonderfully dry performance" gets special praise.  In Richard III he played an implausibly slick and charming U.S. Ambassador (later edited out to make room for Mister Richmond in the US performances); now he has switched sides, playing an Arab director and performing in Arabic (at least in the draft of the script I saw). 

 A brief write-up an audio interview with Jeffrey Brown of PBS' NewsHour, who also did a long segment on Al-Bassam when his Richard III: An Arab Tragedy played Washington and New York in 2009.  The first segment's headline had Al-Bassam "take inspiration" from Shakespeare; the current one has him "taking inspiration" from the Arab Spring.  And there is something to this: it does seem that the source text Twelfth Night plays a relatively insignificant role in the logic of Al-Bassam's new play -- it could have been any other play, or even another type of iconic performance.  Whereas his Hamlet was really a Hamlet.  This is not a criticism.

These things are being posted on SABAB Theatre's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/sababtheatre/

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Al-Bassam at BU

Excited that this informal event at BU is actually happening!


The “Arab Shakespeare Trilogy”:
Staging a Region in Tumult, 2002-2011

A conversation with dramatic examples:
Kuwaiti theatre director Sulayman Al-Bassam
and Prof. Margaret Litvin (MLCL)

Born in Kuwait and educated in Britain, Sulayman Al-Bassam founded the Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre (SABAB) in Kuwait in 2002. He has directed his Shakespeare adaptations on four continents, including at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Kennedy Center, and BAM. SABAB productions are characterized by a radical approach to text, bold production styles, and playful, provocative combinaons of content and form. The Speaker’s Progress, the final play of Al-Bassam’s “Arab Shakespeare Trilogy,” opens at ArtsEmerson in Boston on October 12.

   Wednesday, October 12, 12-2pm
The Castle, 225 Bay State Road
Lunch will be served before and during the talk

Sponsored by the Peter Paul Development Professorship, the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, and the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College