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Articles, Essays, Volume 4

Tayeb Saddiki and the Re-invention of Tradition in Contemporary Moroccan Theatre: An Obituary

Tayeb Saddiki and the Re-invention of Tradition
in Contemporary Moroccan Theatre
An Obituary by Khalid Amine & Marvin Carlson
Arab Stages, Volume 2, Number 2 (Spring 2016)
©2016 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publication

Tayeb Saddiki (1938- 2016) was a theatre director, actor, and playwright from Essaouira, a coastal city in southwest Morocco. In the course of his career as Morocco’s most respected theatre figure since independence, Saddiki has not only dominated the Moroccan stage, he has in fact reconciled Morocco’s traditional acting styles with Western methods. A product of the Mamoura training in 1954, Saddiki started off as an actor and spent some time in la Comédie de L’Ouest with Hubert Ginioux at Rennes, then another workshop in Jean Villar’s Théâtre National Populaire (TNP) in Paris. Upon returning home in 1958, he founded al-Masrah al-Ummali (The Workers’ Theatre) under the auspices of the Moroccan Union of Labor. He became artistic director of the National Theatre Mohamed V in 1964, then general director of the Municipal Theatre of Casablanca (1964- 1977), and founding director of Masrah An-nass (Peoples’ Theatre).

During his artistic career he translated into Arabic 34 foreign plays, wrote 32 plays in Arabic and French (among them 18 pieces in collaboration), directed more than 80 performances, acted in more than 50 productions, directed and produced more than 30 TV dramas, and directed fourshort films and a long one under the title Zeft in 1984. Saddiki devised a considerable number of site-specific performances and outdoor epic performances sponsored by the state and commemorating national historical figures and events. Among these performances were the national epic entitled Moulay Ismail (1980) performed at the historical gate of Bab Manssour in Meknes (built during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail and Aswa’t wa Adwa’a (1989)) performed at El- Wdaya historical site in Rabat. Saddiki received many distinctions for his leadership and outstanding artistic work. In 1976, he received the Wissam al Massira (The Green March) from King Hassan II, who highly esteemed Saddiki’s theatre. In 2004, King Mohammed VI granted him the Wissam al-Kafaâ al-Fikria (intellectual merit), which is one of the highest royal distinctions in Morocco.

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