The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0168 Thursday, 13 March 2008
From: Margaret Litvin <
Date: Wednesday, 12 Mar 2008 00:23:12 -0400
Subject: Arabic RIII Coming to DC
The AP story below announces that the Sulayman Al-Bassam The Richard III,
commissioned as part of the RSC's Complete Works Festival last year, is
coming to Washington, DC. I believe it's going to New York and Michigan
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
WASHINGTON: A retelling of Shakespeare's "Richard III," set in the
contemporary Arab world of desert palaces and oil-rich kingdoms, is
among the highlights of a three-week Arab arts and culture festival that
will mark the 2008-2009 season of the John F. Kennedy Center for the
The "Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World" festival - a name inspired by a
calligraphic style from ninth-century Iraq - was announced Tuesday. It
will feature artists from all 22 Arab nations in February and March
2009, and will be the largest presentation of Arab arts ever in the
United States, Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser said.
Themes from "Richard III," for example, take on new meanings in the Arab
context and can help bridge cultural divides, he said.
"In this world of tribal allegiances, family infighting and absolute
power, the questions of leadership, religion and foreign intervention
are at the heart of Shakespeare's play," Kaiser said.
The programming slate also includes dance ensembles from Lebanon and
Syria as well as traditional belly dancing, while exhibits will feature
Arab photography, sculpture and fashion. Theater and musical offerings
include diverse religious sounds of the region, and the more provocative
"Alive From Palestine: Stories Under Occupation," a play produced by the
only professional theater in the Palestinian territories.
. . .
The Arab festival in 2009 follows similar international events focused
most recently on Japan and China. The festival is being coordinated with
the League of Arab Nations, though still a "daunting" task to bring
together 22 different nations, said Alicia Adams, vice president of
international programming. She said the visa and customs process alone
would probably be most challenging. Arab League Ambassador Hussein
Hassouna said the festival will promote better understanding between
Americans and countries ranging from Iraq to Sudan and Somalia. "It
shows that the Arab world belongs to a great civilization that wants to
be interactive with other cultures," he said.
Kennedy Center officials continue to search for more artists to join the
festival, though planning for the project began four years ago after the
center brought the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra to perform in
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