Oedipus in Egypt *oil on canvas *60,3 x 93,4 cm *signed b.r.: J.L. GEROME *1886
Articles, Essays, Volume 5

Abū-l-ʿIlā al-Salāmūnī: the Rewriting of History in Egyptian Theatre

Abū-l-ʿIlā al-Salāmūnī: the Rewriting of History in Egyptian Theatre
An Essay by Tiran Manucharyan
Arab Stages, Volume 5, Number 1 (Fall, 2016)
©2016 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publication 


The plays Riwāyat al-Nadīm ʿan hoogit al-zaʿīm (1974), ‘Al-Nadīm’s Story about the Uprising of the Leader’, Maʾādhin al-maḥrūsa (1983, ‘The Minarets of the Protected City’), and Abū Naḍḍāra (1988, ‘The Man with Spectacles’) by contemporary Egyptian playwright Abū-l-ʿIlā al-Salāmūnī (b. 1941) were performed one after the other in the 1970s and 1980s, and are strikingly similar in their content and form. These are history plays that look back to the modern history of Egypt from Napoléon’s invasion to the period of British dominance: the foreigners want to subdue the Egyptians, while the Egyptians fight for their right to be free. Both parties use the power of the arts or politics to achieve their purposes. In this essay I analyse the artistic arsenal exploited by al-Salāmūnī in the plays mentioned above, arguing that al-Salāmūnī’s plays both in their content and form refer to the indigenous historical and cultural heritage, rewriting and reworking it in the context of contemporary reality.

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