Friday, July 6, 2012

If you're in London or Newcastle: Tunisian Macbeth

I was flirting with buying a last-minute plane ticket to go see the Tunisia-themed Macbeth adaptation, but looks like it won't happen. So I'd love to hear from friends and colleagues who are going to get to see it in London this weekend or Newcastle next weekend. Specifically, some things I'd love to know, besides general questions of scenography/performance/multimedia use/etc:
  • how does the show reinforce/challenge the expectation of the folks in Stratford&London who commissioned it?  (I take these expectations to be: Shakespeare is Global, all you participating companies are local.)
  • how does it corroborate or play with British preconceptions about the "Arab Spring"? Is it generally optimistic/pessimistic? How does it show the causes of the uprising?  the role of the West in it?
  • how rich is the engagement with Shakespeare? is it just a pretext (Laila=Lady M, something you see in media accounts all the time) or do the adapters work to find interesting equivalents for the witches, ghosts, orphans, other plot or character details?
  • as a show partly funded by the Tunisian Ministry of Culture, i.e. by an Islamist-leaning government its directors don't very much like, how does it address the question of transition - is there a Macduff? - is there peace and closure at the end? or darkness and censorship? or...?
  • what kind of language games are played? Is there significance to any code-switching between fuSHa and 3ammiyya, or integration of English or French?
  • how is Tunisian culture portrayed or not portrayed?
  • how does the show speak differently to different audiences, with their different levels/types of background knowledge and different interests (Shakespeare buffs, political junkies, expats, etc.)?  Is it possible to get a range of reactions from non-Arab Londoners, Arabs in London, Tunisians in London, eventually (if it ever tours there) Tunisians back home?  Who laughs at which jokes?
  • how are documentary sources (e.g., news footage?) integrated into the play? What's their function?
I will happily credit and post here as guest articles any responses I receive by email or as comments to the blog.  Thanks much!

No comments: