Forget Hamlet / Ophelia’s Window

Daood, Monadhil 2020

Ophelia’s Window was performed in 2020 in Baghdad, Iraq and directed by Monadhil Daood, who previously directed “Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad” and performed in other Shakespeare-derived Arabic plays including Sulayman Al-Bassam’s “Al-Hamlet Summit” (as Polonius) and “Richard III” (as Catesby).

Exiled Iraqi playwright and director Jawad al-Assadi wrote and originally staged the play Ophelia’s Window in 1994 in Cairo, Egypt. The play (loosely allegorizing Saddam Hussein as Claudius) was later published as Forget Hamlet in 2000; this is its first performance inside Iraq. Margaret Litvin, Associate Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at Boston University, has translated the play into English.


Ophelia watches Claudius murder the king and inaugurate a reign of terror unopposed by passive Hamlet. Claudius orders blind dissident Laertes tortured and liquidated; silences Gertrude; tries to seduce Ophelia; and sends two goons to assassinate Hamlet. A pair of gravediggers provides sarcastic commentary throughout. Read More

Shakespeare in Yemen

Hazaber, Amin; Hennessey, Katherine 2018

In a land ravaged by strife and violence, actors and poets search for hope and inspiration in the words of the world’s greatest playwright. In this short documentary, Yemeni actors and actresses perform some of Shakespeare’s most famous lines, and a Yemeni poet recites a qasidah inspired by a Shakespearean sonnet. Why Shakespeare? Why Yemen, and why now? Watch and find out. Read More

Merchant of Venice in Yemen (The Lamp Will Keep You Company)

Hazaber, Amin 2012

This Yemeni adaptation of The Merchant of Venice was performed in November 2012 at the Cultural Center in Sana’a and in March 2013 at the Yemen-American Language Institute (YALI)  in Sana’a. “The Tale of ‘Aidarus Bin Mohammed al-Kindi,” A Yemeni adaptation of The Merchant of Venice Read More

Ᾱh Min Ḥawā’ (Beware of Eve)

Abdel Wahab, Fatin 1962 | 2 Comments

This Egyptian cinematic production is an artistic re-creation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, placing it in the context of 1960s Egypt. In it, Sayyid Amin, a country farm owner, conspires with Dr. Hasan Shukri, a young veterinarian and guest on his land, to tame his ill-mannered, wily granddaughter, Amira, and have her wed. Beware of Eve tells the story of Amira Amin (Lobna Abdel Aziz), the granddaughter of a wealthy farmer in the Egyptian countryside, Sayyid Amin (Husayn Riyad). An unruly and reckless granddaughter, Amira causes much grief to her grandfather and her sister, Nadya (Madiha Salim), who cannot marry her love, Lam’i (‘Abdel Mun’im Ibrahim), until Amira marries, Nadya being the youngest. Read More

King Lear

Abdel Halim, Ahmed 2002

This production of King Lear was performed at the National Theatre of Egypt in 2002 and starred Yehia El-Fakharani (Yahya El-Fakharany) in the title role. Read More

Richard II

Morrison, Conall 2012

Performed in Palestinian Arabic by the Ashtar Theatre (with scene description in English). As Bolingbroke accuses Mowbray of treason and murder, and the two men prepare to fight a duel, King Richard intervenes and banishes them both from England. Already unpopular with his lords the monarch angers his supporters further by selling land to fund the disastrous war in Ireland. With the help of those alienated from Richard’s support, Bolingbroke returns to England with an army to seize the throne from the unpopular king in this modern day adaptation of the work. Read More

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

The Speaker’s Progress (Twelfth Night)

Al-Bassam, Sulayman 2011

The Speaker’s Progress uses Twelfth Night as a starting point to explore events in the Middle East, transforming Shakespeare’s comedy into a satire on the decades of political inertia that have fed recent revolts across the Arab region and a daring theatrical metaphor for the mechanisms of dissent. Read More

The Al-Hamlet Summit

Al-Bassam, Sulayman 2004

A crumbling Arab dictatorship (a collage of real states) convenes a government conference amid car bombs in the capital, rebellion in the south, and an international army massed on the borders. English-speaking Arms Dealer (Nigel Barratt) sells to all, including Claudius, Fortinbras, Gertrude, the Islamist Hamlet, and the suicide bomber Ophelia. Read More

I Am Hamlet

Afifi, Hani 2009

This 2009 production of I Am Hamlet was directed by Hani Afifi and stars Mohamad Fahim as Hamlet. Read More

A Theatre Company Found a Theatre and Theatred Hamlet

al-Ṭarīfi, Khālid 1984

In this 1984 musical comedy, produced for the Festival of Portable Theatre in Rabat, an Arab prince hires a British-trained theater troupe to stage Hamlet to “catch the conscience” of his usurping stepfather/uncle, who has married his mother after his father’s death. A shadowy figure named Abu Fawanees (“Lantern Man”) haunts the proceedings, offering commentary on the role of art in society. Read More


Mahran, Sameh 2001

Produced in Cairo in April, 2001, Doditello presents a campy Othello-quoting version of the relationship between the late Princess Diana and her last companion, Egyptian businessman Dodi al-Fayed. Read More


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.

Hamlet Wakes Up Late

‘Adwān, Mamdūḥ 1978 | 2 Comments

The drunkard theatre-director Prince Hamlet awakens too late to the political implications of his father’s murder, his uncle’s dictatorship, and the kingdom’s impending peace deal with Fortinbras; Hamlet is condemned in a show trial and executed. Read More

The Dance of the Scorpions

Abū Dūma, Maḥmūd 1989

Published 1988, performed 1989 and 1991

Author: Maḥmūd Abū Dūma (Egyptian)


Claudius conspires with Fortinbras in a phony war to extort money from nobles and sideline the largely apolitical Hamlet. But domestic opposition (“Crusaders”) stage a revolution.

Ismail / Hamlet

Fattāl, Rūlā 1999

In this monodrama with only a negative allusive relationship to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ismail’s mother is seduced by a hammam owner named Abu Sa‘id, who puts Ismail and his mother to work in the baths. Read More