Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Arab Shakespeare: Sulayman Al -Bassam's "The Al-Hamlet Summit"

Graham Holderness


This paper offers an analysis of Anglo-Kuwaiti dramatist Sulayman AlBassam’s celebrated adaptation The Al-Hamlet Summit, and situates the play into the history of Arable appropriations of Shakespeare. Despite the uneven development of theatre as a medium in Arab cultures, Shakespeare has been a familiar point of reference for Arab dramatists since the late 19th century. Received in the Middle East as a great icon of classical theatre, Shakespeare is there for writers to admire, emulate, imitate or challenge. Arab productions of Hamlet have taken different forms over the years: early productions produced a romantic Arab national hero, while later works from the 1970s onwards cast Hamlet as an impotent intellectual. Al-Bassam’s play fuses these traditions to bring Hamlet right up to date, as both a freedom fighter and a suicidal martyr. Al-Bassam’s adaptation modernises Shakespeare, demonstrating the capacity of his plays to speak about urgent issues of the present as well as indispensable meanings from the past.

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