Richard III: An Arab Tragedy (Spring 2009)

BAMorg — May 18, 2009 — Jun 9—12 at 7:30pm at BAM

Sabab / Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre (Kuwait)
Adapted and directed by Sulayman Al-Bassam

“Al-Bassam’s work is about as original and pulse-quickening as you could wish.” —The Times (UK )

In an oil-rich kingdom, a dictator’s bloody rise to power becomes an allegory of our own times in Richard III: An Arab Tragedy, Kuwaiti director Sulayman Al-Bassam’s groundbreaking remake of Shakespeare’s Machiavellian masterpiece. Grainy TV confessions, sophisticated propaganda, and a wealth of Arab music and ritual lend themes of leadership, religion, and foreign intervention an uncanny relevance, turning this classic play into a cautionary contemporary tale.

This work was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of the Complete Works Festival.

Part of Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas

BAM Harvey Theater
Running time: 110min, no intermission

Subscription tickets: $20, 28, 36
(Full price: $25, 35, 45)

In Arabic with English titles


Richard III “An Arab VIP” movie trailer

In Richard III “An Arab VIP”, a documentary film crew follows a spectacular touring Arab production of Shakespeare’s eponymous play as it moves from an initial rehearsal period in the oil-rich Arabian Gulf State of Kuwait to the charged atmosphere of a U.S. premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and on to the United Arab Emirates – for a command performance at the behest of local princesses in Abu Dhabi. In between, the cast and crew assemble and disassemble in various cities across the Arab world — Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi — and the process of breathing life into their fictional characters begins to take shape in a way that uncannily reflects the politics and turmoil that surrounds them…

Richard III: An Arab Tragedy

Al-Bassam, Sulayman 2007

An adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III set in an unnamed Gulf state. The production, part of Sulayman Al-Bassam’s Shakespeare trilogy, is performed in Arabic and set in the modern Middle East. See also The Al-Hamlet Summit and The Speakers’s Progress. Read More