al-Demerdash, Nur; Sobhi, Mohamed (Muhammad Ṣubḥī) 1977 | 16 Comments

Staged in 1971, 1975, 1976-7

Author: Shakespeare (adapted by Mohamed Sobhi (Muhammad Ṣubḥī) from three Shakespeare translations: Khalīl Muṭrān, ʻA.Q. al-Qiṭṭ, and J.I. Jabrā).  Directed for television by Nur al-Demerdash.

Opening scene (funeral) Carmina Burana

Now a noble heart has stopped. Good night, dear prince. Good night. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. Goodbye, my prince. (He repeats these lines four times, in different versions that could be translated differently or not.) Give me the man who is not passion’s slave and I will hold him in my heart’s core. As I do you. (Pause.) Death is a sleep. A sleep. A sleep. A sleep. (Music rises. Funeral procession continues across the stage and exits left.)

Horatio’s framing speech

How shall I describe that day? The sky full of fog. The people silent. Eyes far away, cheeks streaked with tears. Bells tolling in the distance, carrying the grievous news. (Deep sigh.) The mighty king Hamlet the Elder was dead. I urged Hamlet the young prince to let me go with him to Denmark to attend his father’s funeral, but he went ahead.
And when I arrived here, in Denmark, there was no funeral, and no signs of mourning. I saw Claudius, the uncle of the prince, who had become a king on the throne, and had married the queen, the wife of his dead brother. From here began the tragedy which ended with the death of the young prince, Hamlet.
And only I am left: Horatio, alone, lost. I have to set the people straight and tell them the whole story of the things that took place, including crimes of passion and blood, deaths put on by fate and forced cause. All this can I now tell you, truly.

Council scene

Sobhi’s entrance, the council scene, ending in a dance to 1812 Overture
Shakespeare’s Hamlet 1.2

Ghost scene

Hamlet 1.5
25:49 Ghost appears
27:00 “I’ll follow.”
27:59 Hamlet finishes following the ghost: “Speak, I’ll go no further.”

Nunnery scene

Nevine Ramez plays Ophelia. Hamlet 3.1
Much of the intervening material between 2.2 and 3.1 has been cut, and the rest has been moved, so this is much earlier in Sobhi’s play than Shakespeare’s.