Articles, Reviews, Volume 4

Four Arab Hamlet Plays

Four Arab Hamlet Plays 
eds. Marvin Carlson and Margaret Litvin with Joy Arab
A Book Review by Safi Mahmoud Mahfouz
Arab Stages, Volume 2, Number 2 (Spring 2016)
©2016 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publication

Four Arab Hamlet Plays, eds. Marvin Carlson and Margaret Litvin with Joy Arab. New York: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications. The City University of New York, 2015. 299 pages.

The recent publication of the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Four Arab Hamlet Plays  (2015) encompasses the translation of four plays and an autobiographical sketch. The four Arab appropriations in the volume constitute only an illustrative sample of the Arab Hamlet canon which has produced hilarious political satires and farces throughout the Arab World. The collection features plays written by Nabyl Lahlou (Ophelia is Not Dead, Morocco, 1968), Mamduh Udwan (Hamlet Wakes Up Late, Syria, 1976), Nader Omran (A Theatre Company Found a Theatre and Theatred “Hamlet”, Jordan, 1984), Jawad al-Assadi (Forget Hamlet, Iraq, 1994). Three plays in the volume are rancorous political satires parodying Shakespeare’s Hamlet while Omran’s play, though belonging to the Arab Hamlet tradition, is simply a socio-esthetic critique of Arabic drama imitating Western dramaturgy. The book concludes with a brief autobiographical sketch by the Egyptian playwright Mahmoud Aboudoma “Gamlet” is Russian for “Hamlet”, 2006. The book was edited by Marvin Carlson, Professor of theatre, comparative literature and Middle Eastern studies at The City University of New York and Margaret Litvin, Associate Professor of Arabic literature at Boston University and the author of Hamlet’s Arab Journey: Shakespeare’s Prince and Nasser’s Ghost (2011), in collaboration with the theatre producer Joy Arab.

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