The Last Supper by Ahmed El Attar

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Most striking of all is the role of the servants. They are not allowed to approach the table except to bring food or pour water. In the case of the children’s nanny, she must stand at a distance from the table, ready to take out whatever is needed for the children’s pleasure—games, books, and lollipops (which she has to unwrap for them). If the mother wants her head massaged, the nanny may perform this duty and then return to her standing position. The waiter never walks; he runs to fetch more water or whatever else is needed.  Throughout the fifty-five minutes of the show, the supper is never served. It seems that the group is waiting for the father’s wife to appear. While they are waiting, they cannot resist taking a selfie to post on Instagram. They all gather and the group is captured in all of its inanity, frozen forever in a red light that El Attar shines on the group from time to time to immortalize their futility.

Philippa Wehle is Professor Emerita of French Language and Culture and Drama Studies at Purchase College, State University of New York. She writes widely on contemporary theatre and performance and is the author of Le Théâtre populaire selon Jean Vilar, Drama Contemporary: France, and Act French: Contemporary Plays from France. She is a well-known translator of contemporary plays with a specialty in creating supertitles in French for emerging theatre companies. Dr. Wehle is a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters.

Marvin Carlson is the Sidney E. Cohn Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature, and Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Editor-in-Chief of Arab Stages. His research and teaching interests include dramatic theory and Western European theatre history and dramatic literature, especially of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. He has been awarded the ATHE Career Achievement Award, the George Jean Nathan Prize, the Bernard Hewitt prize, the George Freedley Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been a Walker-Ames Professor at the University of Washington, a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Indiana University, a visiting professor at the Freie Universitat of Berlin, and a Fellow of the American Theatre. In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Athens. His best-known book, Theories of the Theatre (Cornell University Press, 1993), has been translated into seven languages. His 2001 book, The Haunted Stage won the Calloway Prize. His newest book is Four Plays From Syria: Sa’dallah Wannous (Martin E. Segal Center Publications, 2014).

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