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Announcements, Articles, Volume 3

Issam Mahfouz’s The Dictator presented in New York

Issam Mahfouz’s The Dictator presented in New York
Marvin Carlson
Arab StagesVolume 2, Number 1 (Fall 2015)
©2015 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

The Dictator, written in 1969 by Lebanese playwright Issam Mahfouz, has been described as an absurdist classic, a minimalist mixture of Ionesco, Plautus and Beckett, with fierce and frequently hilarious jabs at despotism in the Arab world. A revolutionary work when it was written, it continues to speak to the revolutions and reversals unfolding in today’s Middle East. Lebanon’s The Daily Star has called it “a masterpiece of claustrophobia, an exploration of despotism, delusion, and power fames.”

The Dictator is the story of a tyrant, a mentally disturbed individual under the illusion that he is humanity’s long-awaited savior, and of his comic and unpredictable assistant, Saadoun. The translation, which appears in published form alongside an essay about Syrian dramatist Sa’dallah Mahfouz in the January 2015 edition of PAJ, allows audiences in the English-speaking world access to the theatre of one of the Middle East’s most significant contemporary dramatic voices.

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