Monday, October 29, 2012

Conference panel on Arab Shakespeare in Canada

A call for papers, due Dec 15, for the Canadian Society of Renaissance Studies. 

Among other thematic sessions:
5.  "Arabic Shakespeare"

The recent stagings of Shakespeare in Arabic in the UK and the Middle East would suggest that the Arabization of Shakespeare is a recent phenomenon. But this is not the case at all. This session aims to look at various ways Shakespeare has been, and continues to be, read or staged in the Arabic-speaking world. The topics are open, and the following are presented only for the purpose of generating ideas:
  • Shakespeare's plays translated: how, why, what alterations?
  • The Sonnets in translation
  • Shakespeare as intertext
  • Shakespeare in Middle Eastern historical context
Please send your proposal (of not more than 500 words) to the organizer of this session: Joseph Khoury (
 And here's the fine print:
I write to call your attention to an upcoming deadline of Dec. 15, 2012 for proposals for the annual conference of the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies to be held at the University of Victoria 1-3 June 2013.  The CSRS invites proposals in English or in French on any Renaissance topic in a variety of disciplines : literature, history, philosophy, music, art history, medicine, cultural studies to the Program Director, Gary Kuchar, (

All proposals must be submitted no later than December 15, 2012.  Papers must not exceed 20 minutes in delivery. All participants must be members of the CSRS. To renew or apply for membership, please contact Margaret Reeves, Department of Critical Studies (English), 351A Fine Arts Bldg., University of British Columbia - Okanagan Campus, 3333 University Way, Kelowna, B.C. V1V 1V7 (
 I hope someone will take this opportunity to grapple with Kamal Abu Dib's new translation of the sonnets!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Could Arafat dance? A dabke Henry V

Another Arab Shakespeare show in London: a Palestinian dabke dance adaptation of Henry V.  Yes, you heard that right.  This time by a Britain-based company, not one brought in for a festival.
The UK-based Palestinian dabke theatre group Al Zaytouna will present its new production entitled Unto the Breach, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V set in modern-day Palestine. The show, directed by Ahmed Masoud and co-directed by Hadjer Nacer, will be performed in London in November 2012. Al Zaytouna board member Souraya Qabbani gave the following interview ahead of the full production's debut.
 Read the Palestine Chronicle interview here.

 I would have thought of Arafat as more a King Lear figure, but here he is transparently allegorized as Henry V.  That takes some dance steps indeed:
Q- Although King Henry V, at one point in the original play, comes to the humble realisation that he is but a man; he is nevertheless the person responsible for rallying his men to victory. How does that reconcile with your show, given that: a- Yasser Arafat, who in the director's words is "the great figurehead of the Palestinian struggle", has died before managing to lead his people to liberty; and b- The Arab Spring, which you cite as among the inspirations for the show, had been sparked without any outstanding movement leaders?
Whilst the launch of Unto the Breach coincides with the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, and there are parallels between our depiction of the Chairman and that of the late Palestinian leader, the show is not a historical account of his life. It does, however reflect on the value of a figurehead such as Arafat, in uniting people behind a common cause, enabling them to stand up for their rights and to stake their claim for sovereignty on a world stage. The show recognises this value but also acknowledges that the Palestinians have not yet achieved their objectives, and so the Chairman in our production dies without securing the liberty that he craved for his people. The achievement of victory is thus far less clear-cut in Unto the Breach than it is in Shakespeare’s Henry V. 
In the show, the Chairman’s death leaves the Palestinians without a leader, and so the onus is on them to once again rise up and claim their rights.  The idea that this is possible – that people can bring about change if they unite and call for it with a common voice - flowed strongly from the Arab Spring, and inspired us to create the show.  Although we recognise that any such struggle is fraught with difficulties, it is this idea of hope that continues to drive us forwards.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Bedouin Shakespeare Company" brings Hamlet to UAE

The (UAE) National profiles a young Shakespeare troupe about to bring Hamlet to Abu Dhabi.One might ask, with Hamlet: "How chances it they travel?" In this case, it may be that both "in reputation and profit" (cf. Hamlet 2.2.294) the UAE is an excellent bet.
No word on whether the Bedouin company hopes to localize the play, but they do claim some local Abu Dhabi "roots," if that term can be used of this professedly nomadic enterprise:
The Bedouin Shakespeare Company, which flew into Abu Dhabi last week in preparation for a three-week tour of the UAE, was founded by Edward Andrews and Mark Brewer, both 23, who came to live in the Emirates with their parents in 1999 and 2000 respectively.
Edward's father was working for the UAE Central Bank, Mark's was an IT consultant for the police force, and they met and became friends at the British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.
After school, Edward trained at Drama Studio London, during which time he played the male lead in Romeo and Juliet and Proteus in a production of Two Gentlemen of Verona, while Mark graduated from the university of Lincoln in 2011 with a BA Hons in drama. Also part of the company of seven is Laura Corbett, another British expatriate who moved to Saudi Arabia when she was 9 and joined the British School after her family transferred to Abu Dhabi.
The company's name, says Edward, partly reflects its roots in Abu Dhabi. "It has Arabic ties, of course - nomadic, the desert, the traveller - and we are a homeless theatre company, nomadically travelling and performing around the UAE".
They hope to engage Emirati students with the play, with special performances at Zayed University and UAE university in Al Ain.
 Read the whole article on The National's site. The company's home (online at least) is here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shakespeare job at AUC

Job posting possibly of interest: The American University in Cairo (actually now about 40km outside Cairo) is recruiting a scholar of Renaissance or Early Modern literature.
"Applicants are invited for a position in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Rank: Open. Area of specialization: Shakespeare/Renaissance with an orientation in early modern studies, global studies and/or literary theory strongly preferred. The candidate must be prepared for extensive interaction with a diverse literature faculty. Responsibilities include the teaching of humanities courses in the University’s Core Curriculum, introduction to literature and survey of British literature. The teaching load is normally nine credits per semester, including courses in the MA Program."
Details at;jsessionid=46B72C6159DF6439160588CB9092CC3E?JOBID=35292