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Photo Credit: Rebekah Maggor
Articles, Reviews, Volume 5

World Premiere of Arabic Drama at Cornell

World Premiere of Arabic Drama at Cornell
A Theatre Review by Marvin Carlson
Arab Stages, Volume 5, Number 1 (Fall, 2016)
©2016 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publication

The Cornell University Department of Performing and Media Arts presented on September 22-24, 2016 the world premiere of a new drama, Desert of Light, by Palestinian-Syrian playwright Rama Haydar.  The playwright was born and raised in Damascus, but her family, although all Syrian-born, were of Palestinian origin and therefore  were never granted full Syrian citizenship. Haydar   had to flee to Lebanon in 2012, where she began writing Desert of Light.  She completed the play in Granada, Spain, where she is now completing her interrupted studies  as a dramatist and director.

The production is the first mounted at Cornell by Rebekah Maggor, who joined the faculty there this fall.  Maggor, who translated the work with Haydar, is not only a director and scholar but also a performer and voice and speech specialist.  She has a special interest in theatre of protest and in drama from the Middle East.  Her anthology, Tahrir Tales: Plays from the Egyptian Revolution was published by Seagull Books in 2016.  Maggor first read Haydar’s work in 2014 while on a Fulbright to study theatre in Israel and Palestine. She was fascinated by Haydar’swriting as representative of the work of young dramatists in that region coming to grips with the aftermath of the “Arab Spring.” and seeking to move beyond the clichés of mainstream news sources who tend to see Palestinians as either victims or terrorists.

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