Playwright Lenin El-Ramly, 1945-2020

Acclaimed Egyptian playwright Lenin El-Ramly, known for his biting political satires, died yesterday. He was 75:

According to Ahram OnlineEl-Ramly’s wife — the writer Fatma El Maadoul — stated that he’d died after spending nearly a week in intensive care.

El-Ramly was born in Cairo to a family of writers — his mother was the novelist Souad Zuhair, and he began publishing his short stories in the 1950s, when he was still a teen. In the 60s, he started writing for television, and earned his degree in theatre. Throughout his career, he shifted between writing for film and writing for the stage.

One of his best-known theatrical works was the satiric play In Plain Arabicstaged to popular and critical acclaim in the early 1990s. It won several awards, and was translated to English by Esmat Allouba and published by AUC Press in 1994. There were only a handful of Arabic plays published in English translation in the 1990s, but three by El-Ramly appeared: In Plain Arabic, Point of View (tr. Yussif Hifnawi), and The Nightmare (tr. Wagdi Zeid).

You can also read an excerpt from A Peace of Women, translated by Hazem Azmy, on Words Without Borders.

El-Ramly’s last play, Laugh Till/When You Die (Idhak lama t’moot), opened in February 2018. According to Arab Stages, “El Ramly started writing the text in 2010, finished it in 2014 and published it in 2016, to be performed in 2018!”

El-Ramly also wrote a number of film scripts, including The Ostrich and the Peacock, which was initially banned, and globally released The Terrorist. He won many international prizes, including, in October 2005, the Netherlands-based Prince Claus Award for Theatre.