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Arab Reinterpretation of Shakespeare's Richard III to Hit UK Theaters - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Arab Reinterpretation of Shakespeare's Richard III to Hit UK Theaters

Arab Reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Richard III to Hit UK Theaters

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Following the international success of The Al-Hamlet Summit, the Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre Company returns to UK theaters with a new Arabic version of Richard III, specially commissioned for the Complete Works Festival.

Set in the desert of an unnamed oil-rich kingdom in the Arabian Gulf, Sulayman Al-Bassam’s re-working of Richard III, presents Shakespeare’s tragedy from a contemporary Islamic perspective.

A shortened version of Shakespeare’s original, the play’s setting and Christian framework have been re-worked, although the central message, plot and main character list remain the same. questions of kinship, tyranny, oppression and civil war take new significance as the action shifts from England to the modern middle east where tribal allegiance, family in-fighting and power struggles are as relevant today as the were in Shakespeare’s time.

Performed in Arabic with English surtitles as a part of the royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) ongoing Complete Works Festival, the production offers a window onto the social customs, heritage and politics of today’s Arab world.

Presented as a cautionary tale with particular relevance to the gulf region today, Al-Bassam is mindful that his work should not be perceived as a declaration of what is right and wrong. “I’m very conscious of not using theatre to make binary moral statements. As this process merely confirms prejudices and makes matters worse.”

Regarding the state of political theater in the Arab World Al-Bassam said, “In the Arab world, it is not common practice to use theatre as a means of making a critique of one’s own society. Although this kind of critique happens regularly on satellite TV and in some newspapers, it is frowned upon and is strictly monitored in theater”.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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