Syrians have always revelled in political theatre, which has flourished in Damascus since 1967. But to date there has been very little research on the protest plays written by the Syrians Durayd Lahham (b. 1934) and Muhammad al-Maghout (b. 1934). This book highlights the so far unappreciated merit of these plays, which for so long have been unexplored by the world theatre community, and which are representative of the new wave of Arab theatrical realization. The author surveys the semi-theatrical phenomena their popular orientation and their Eastern carnivalesque folk sources in the Arab world from the Hellenic period to the beginning of the twenty-first century. A primary focus is to explain the reasons behind the tendency towards comedy rather than tragedy, an issue long neglected by scholars. The plays are discussed in terms of former plebeian Arabic theatrical manifestations, and as an aesthetic medium for alternative mass communication. Ghawwar, the famous character type created by Lahham symbolizes a poetical link between the bitter cup of a miserable present and the holy rain of a better future.
Mas'ud Hamdan is a writer and lecturer at the University of Haifa (Theatre and Arabic Literature departments). He is the recipient of The Landau Fund Prize & The Yitzhak Rabin Prize. He has published numerous articles on Arabic and Hebrew Literature and Theatre, a novelette, a collection of short stories, three poetry anthologies, three plays and a film.
Theatrical Genres and the Carnivalesque: Art of the Theatre; Theatre in the Arab World: The Historical Background; The Early Comedies of Durayd Lahham and Nihad Qal'i: Birth Pangs of Late Satire; When a Gay Rogue Grows to be a Tragic Fool: The Carnivalesque Satires; Index.