Monday, November 28, 2011

"Shakespeare, friend of Arab democracy"

Thanks to all who helped organize or who attended my recent talks at Cairo U, Ayn Shams (Al-Alsun and Drama Dept), and/or AUC. It was humbling and mind-sharpening to do them in light of everything that was happening in Cairo. And is still happening. Happy (to the limited extent possible) Election Day!
Thanks also to Sameh Fekry Hanna from whose dissertation I lifted the 1912 image at left: "Shakespeare, the democratic English dramatic poet."
One more talk coming up at Helwan U on Dec 8.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gary Wills on Shakespeare and Verdi

No Arab connection per se, and kind of unexpected to find Wills (brilliant polymath though he is) writing about this, but check out this great NYRB piece on the authorship of Shakespeare and Verdi, and the day-to-day theatrical work that was inseperable from it in both men's lives.  Theatre shaped by actual conditions: not only sponsorship but available talent!  What a great idea.  (And what a frequent reality in Arab companies as well.)
Of course Verdi -- whose work inaugurated Khedive Ismail's opera house -- was an even earlier and more decisive influence in Arab theatre than Shakespeare has been.


Anyone for a night at the movies? Films about bloody dictators, perhaps?
As government troops fire on Eid demonstrators in cities including Hama and Homs, a Syrian newspaper announces a film festival in Damascus.  To wit: a festival will be held November 13-16 at the Al-Asad House for Arts and Culture, "under the patronage of Minister of Culture [and one-time respected playwright] Riad Ismat," devoted to the films of Shakespeare.  The newspaper notes that hundreds of Shakespeare-based films have been made, "among the most prominent of which are Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, and Macbeth."