July in Arabic Theater: Un-funny Comedies and Their Antidote

Nehad Selaiha writes this week in Al Ahram about summer theater events around Cairo, devoting an unfortunate number of paragraphs to a hastily organized and apparently un-funny comedy festival that ran from July 10-16. (If you’re going to write about un-funny comedies, really, you should feel obligated to do so in a humorous manner.)

However, once Selaiha finally gets past panning the comedy fest, she highlights a worthy play, El-Sirk Sirkina (This Circus is Our Circus). El-Sirk Sirkina was mostly based on stories from celebrated Palestinian author Mahmoud Al-Rimawi’s Darb Batee’ ‘ala Tabl Saghir (Slow Beats on a Small Drum). (Those unfamiliar with Al-Rimawy’s work can read a short story of his here.)

Selaiha credits the success of the play to “the quality of the writing, its crispness, freshness and austere economy.”

She says:

His El-Sirk Sirkina was simply uplifting. I watched it in its second run, on 14 July, and it proved a timely and highly potent antidote to Ashraf Zaki’s miserable and thoroughly depressing ‘Week of Laughter’.

Meanwhile, this week in Lebanon, the Lebanese American University (LAU) kicks off their thirteenth annual International Theater Festival. Lina Abyad’s acclaimed “Kafka, His Father, the Boss, the Wolf, and the Pigs,” will open the festival on July 22.