Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beirut conference - Shakespeare and the Orient

Due Jan 21 2011
American University of Beirut
The American University of Beirut is hosting a three-day conference on Shakespeare’s Imagined Orient on 4-6 May 2011. Speakers include Jonathan Burton (West Virginia University), Gerald Maclean (University of Exeter, UK), Margaret Litvin (Boston University), Daniel Vitkus (Florida State University) and Richard Wilson (Cardiff University). Shakespeare studies has recently experienced a noticeable and dramatic geographical shift. As the textual landscape of Shakespeare’s drama changes, it takes new forms and now points to new horizons, namely the East and the Orient, and more particularly the Levant. From the blasted heaths of England, Shakespeare moves to the most arid and yet fertile soils of the Levant. The aim of the conference, in this emergent field, is to reconsider Shakespeare’s diffusion from both Pre and Postcolonial Middle Eastern perspectives and to examine Shakespeare’s critical relevance to understanding religion and politics on both a local scale (in the Middle East/the Orient) and globally. Reaching across disciplinary boundaries, Shakespeare’s Imagined Orient aims to prove how the critical and artistic reception of Shakespeare in the Orient is paramount to apprehending and reinventing Shakespeare as a cultural and social bridge uniting the “East” and the “West” in the landscape of global culture. The organisers of the conference hope to offer a critical insight into Shakespeare and Early Modern political theology that would help refashion, remap broader issues that engage the status of cultural and religious identity, nation, and individuality in the landscape of global culture. With such issues in mind, we invite submissions concerning the following range of topics: - Representations of the Orient in Shakespeare's Work, - Christian/Muslim Representation/Interaction on Shakespeare's/the Early Modern stage, - Local/Global Shakespeare (from a Middle Eastern perspective), - Shakespeare's women and the Orient, - Desire, Phantasm, and the Orient, - Identity and Nationhood, - Material Culture and the Imagined Orient on Shakespeare's Stage.

Please send abstracts (300 words) or session proposals and brief CV by 21 January 2011. Notifications will be sent by 15 February 2011. On your abstract please include your name, institution, city and state or country, email address and phone number. E-mail your abstracts/session proposals as a Word file. Please note that each presentation is limited to 25 minutes (including questions). Full details can be downloaded from the conference website at Questions may be addressed to the conference chair: Prof. Francois-Xavier Gleyzon at
Department of English
American University of Beirut
Fisk Hall, Rm 229
PO Box 11-0236
Beirut 1107 2020 - Lebanon
The conference is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the British Council, the Anis K. Makdisi Program in Literature, the Office of the Provost, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"To be or not to be" cartoon

I found this political cartoon while looking for an example of sloganized use of a Hamlet quotation for a talk I'm giving at Tufts this week.  Many of my American hearers have trouble believing that "to be or not to be" can be a passionate call to arms.

It's by the Palestinian artist Naji Salim Hussein al-Ali (1937-1987); you can see more of his work here:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Seeking video of Arab/ic Shakespeare performances

The Global Shakespeares web archive at MIT has gone live -- with virtually no content on its Arab World section. There's only my placeholder introduction. 
Yalla! Let's send our archivist friends some video to include in the site.  Any leads can be sent to me or to Prof. Peter Donaldson, the site's editor-in-chief.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Textual fundamentalists angry at Hani Afifi for postmodern adaptation

This unknown (to me) reviewer accuses the young adaptor/director Hani Afifi of "betraying Shakespeare's text," which the review (in Arabic) describes as "sacred."  Afifi's I Am Hamlet is winning all kinds of prizes, including Best Actor at the 2009 CIFET.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No Othello in Tangiers

I should clarify that there has been a funny linguistic misunderstanding. Back in June, while I was in Morocco, I misread "Hotel Tanja" as "Otayl Tanja," i.e., Othello -- which is easy to do, because the two are spelled identically, and because I had forgotten that Moroccans use the French word hotel instead of the classical Arabic word funduq. I was further misled by one of the plays in the volume being called Zanqat Shaksbir -- Shakespeare Street. Which turns out to be about a real street in Tangiers, with a plot very vaguely reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet but too far to be considered a Shakespeare adaptation. My friend Khalid Amine, head of the International Center for Performance Studies in Tangier set me straight. Consider it a lesson in di- or tri-glossia.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Othello from Tangiers

Greetings from Morocco. This is the cover of a new book (apparently) titled Othello of Tangiers. By Tangiers-based writer Zoubeir Ben Bouchta.

More details soon, inshallah.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Twelfth Night in Damascus

I just came across the Damascus Shakespeare Festival, and apparently it aspires to be annual. However, this year's performance of Twelfth Night by the Birmingham Theatre troupe (visiting from England) seems to have left the Syrian audience cold. The review quotes a Syrian actress named Yara Sabri wishing the show had had more music and dancing etc. to "contribute to the arts education" of a less elite audience. No surprise there. If ever there were a problematic play for cross-cultural presentation, surely Twelfth Night must be it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TV report on Shakespeare festival in Damascus

TV report here (in Arabic) on recent Shakespeare Festival held in Damascus, including Birmingham Theatre's performance of Twelfth Night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Omar Sharif to play King Lear

Sounds wonderful. But how will they avoid allegories about sitting Egyptian presidents??

Sharif Will Star in Egyptian Film Inspired by King Lear
By Kenneth Jones
February 11, 2010
Omar Sharif, the Egyptian-born Oscar-nominated actor of Arab and French descent, will play the tragic patriarch in a film adaptation that places Shakespeare's King Lear in the modern Middle East.Variety reported that the 77-year-old actor — who starred in "Lawrence of Arabia" (for which he got an Academy Award nomination), "Funny Girl" and "Dr. Zhivago" — will play Lear, which is to be set in Egypt.
Egyptian writer Khaled Al Khamissi, who wrote the novel "Taxi," an international bestseller, will write the screenplay.
The film is being developed and produced by Frederic Sichler's Amana Creative, who was once CEO of France's StudioCanal.
Sichler is co-producing "King Lear" with Egypt's Misr Intl. and perhaps Egypt National Broadcast Corp.
"Shakespeare is an icon of European culture, Al Khamissi represents the best of a new generation of Arab writers, and Omar Sharif has been a bridge between our two worlds for half a century," producer Sichler said.
A director will be announced; shooting should begin by late 2010.
King Lear is the famed Shakespeare tragedy of an aging king who decides to divide his domain in three, among his daughters. When he denies his good daughter her share, it becomes his — and his kingdom's — undoing.