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Macbeth : Leïla and Ben – A Bloody History ©Lotfi Achour
Volume 2

A Dramatic Anticipation of the Arab Spring and a Dramatic Reflection Upon It

A Dramatic Anticipation of the Arab Spring
and a Dramatic Reflection Upon It
by Eiman Tunsi
 Arab StagesVolume 1, Number 2 (Spring 2015)
 ©2015 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

This study aims to pursue both the anticipation of the Arab Spring in an important modern Egyptian drama and a reflection upon it in a more recent drama from Tunisia.  Long before the uprising in Tunisia, the Arab Spring was anticipated in the Egyptian drama Belle in the Prison of Socrates.  Created by a scholar of classics, Ahmed Etman (1945–2013), the play was first written in 1987, revised in 2001, and printed in 2004 with almost no modifications. The play was translated into English by Professor Fawzia El-Sadr and published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2008.   In the wake of the Arab Spring a reflecting upon it was created in Tunisia.  This was Macbeth: Leïla & Ben—A Bloody History, staged in the 2012 International Theatre Festival in Carthage by a French-Tunisian theatre group. Its successive performances in Tunisia, Sao Paolo, and Paris offered a view of the political and economic suppression which led to the uprising of Tunisian youth in 2010.

This study seeks to draw attention to the causes of the Arab Spring suggested in Socrates and developed in Leïla and Ben. The span of time between the birth of the Egyptian play and the staging of the Tunisian play covers the period of oppression of the thirty years before the January 14 Revolution in Tunisia. This paper will focus upon certain aspects of the relationship between youth and power which led to the revolution of the youths in the Arab World.  In the two plays selected for this study, Socrates has been charged, in the first, with corrupting the young while, in the second,  the Arabic Macbeth has suppressed the youth of the nation.

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