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ADACH hosts Arab adaptation of Shakespeare's drama

posted on 26/02/2009: 2107 views

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) will host three performances in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain of the celebrated play 'Richard III: an Arab Tragedy' - an adaptation of Shakespeare's drama by the Kuwaiti Suleiman Al-Bassam Theatre.

The event marks a new cultural initiative by ADACH in presenting a unique experience for theatre enthusiasts.

The first show, to be staged on the 20th March, will be held at Al Ain's Al-Jahili Fort, one of the most ancient and important forts in the UAE, and known over the years as a historical, cultural and tourism landmark.

The other two performances will be held in Abu Dhabi on 29th and 30th March at Dhafrah Theatre in the Cultural Foundation building.

The play was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, when they asked Sulayman Al Bassam to create 'Richard III: an Arab Tragedy' for their complete works festival in Stratford-on-Avon in the English Midlands.

It was staged 12 times, marking the first Arabic work to be produced at that important theatre. Since then, the play has toured the world, visiting countries such as France, Greece, China, Holland and finally the USA where it has its North American debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

The play is an adaptation of the original Shakespearean text to appeal to Arabic culture, specifically to the Gulf region.

Al Bassam chose his cast to be an all Arab starts. He also adapted the language of the play in a mix of classical and contemporary Arabic in an attempt to add to the play a special Arabic flavour whilst retaining its Shakespearean spirit.

The play tells the story of a civil war between competing tribal factions that ends with the triumphal coronation of Edward IV.

However, the ruler's ill health prompts his brother Richard to plot his own succession to the throne. Richard stops at nothing to achieve his goal; and so to consolidate his power base he seduces Anne, the widow of the Prince of Wales.

Meanwhile, inside the palace the feuds rage between Richard and Queen Elizabeth, who also tries to control the kingdom.

Abdullah Al Amri, Director of Arts and Culture Department in ADACH, said that hosting such an event is an important addition to the portfolio of ADACH.

'Richard III: an Arab Tragedy is unique, as it brilliantly mixes the chants of the desert with the sea with music played live on stage. Costumes are also unique as it does not represent a certain region or time. It simply summarises the messages to the audience by the originality of the ideas, the concept, the traditions and values. In addition, it opens doors for a more and profound cultural dialogue,' he said.

The Kuwaiti director and playwright Sulayman Al Bassam explained: 'The play is a mask, not to hide behind but to reveal lines of our own identity that a mirror obliterates. I'm using this mask idea to explore our own world'.

'When I had the chance to rework the original text into Arabic I had two major questions in mind: how could we adjust it into our own culture in such a way that gets the audience emotionally involved with it; and what are the possible means of reworking it in a way that helps us promote our culture worldwide. Throughout the play, we are trying to answer these queries,' he added. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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