Press & Media


. . a heavy dose of political courage and mental clarity.
[scg_html_gray]Al Akhbar, Lebanese Daily, May 2016 (Pierre Abi Saab)
Full article (in Arabic): On Truth In Art

Al Akhbar, Lebanese Daily, May 2016 (Mona Marei)
Full article (In Arabic): An elegy for a hijacked spring

L’Orient le Jour, 6 May 2016 (Edgar Davidan)
Full article (in French): Sulayman al-Bassam a le théâtre dans le sang

“intensely poetic
The Australian, 9 January 2013 (John McCallum)
Full article: An explosive look at the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring comes to the theatre in Sydney
SBS World News Australia, 10 January 2013 (Patrick Abboud)
Full article and video: Arab Spring play premieres in Sydney

A production of raw urgency.  Its thrilling to see such a fresh production at the Sydney Festival
Australian Stage, 10 January 2013 (Ashley Walker)
Full article: In the Eruptive Mode

Interviews with Sulayman Al Bassam:
Sydney Festival TV, 10 January 2013
The Australian, 15 December 2012 (Sharon Verghis)
The Brag, Sydney, January 2013 (Rebecca Saffir)

Ce work in progress qui porte la marque de l’écriture dense, shakespearienne, de Sulayman al Bassam, est un événement exceptionnel qui permettra de prendre la dimension des révolutions arabes dans toute leur paradoxale complexité.
Gilles Kepel, Sciences Po, Paris 26 June 2012

Hide full list

In the Eruptive Mode


Arabic press dossier

“this tale of crushed female emancipation pulls no punches in Sulayman Al-Bassam’s emphatic staging
The Financial Times, 22 May 2013 (Laura Cappelle)
Full article: Rituel pour une metamorphose, review

“La première pièce de langue Arabe qui entre au répertoire du Francais est flamboyant”
Canard Enchaine, 12 June 2013 (Vallet Jacques)
Full article: Rituel pour une métamorphose

“The charge of Orientalism hit a raw nerve with Mr Al Bassam, who recoils at an age-old view of the Middle East as something exotic, all camels and belly-dancing, with no regard for history, politics or the individual. “
The New York Times, 5 July 2013 (Celestine Bohlen)
Full article: Arab Voices on a Venerable Stage

Le Monde magazine, 29 June 2013

Press video clips: France2, France3

Press radio audio clips: RFI En Sol Majeur, RFI Vous m’en direz des nouvelles

Hide full list

Ritual for a Metamorphosis


Press dossier

“A groundbreaking exploration of the transformative events unfolding in today’s Arab world.
Al Watan Daily Newsaper, Kuwait

“What comes through clearly is that even in the middle of totalitarianism, art can carve out space to dissent.”
The New York Times, USA, 7 October 2011 (Jason Zinoman)
Full article:Restricting Free Speech with Lab Coats in Illyria

“Al-Bassam puts contemporary Arab reality into the dock of the accused and makes a compelling and brilliant case against it”
Al Jareeda Newspaper (Talib Al Refai)

“By the October 2011 shows in Beirut, Brooklyn, and Boston, the script had evolved: open-ended, still hopeful, but conscious that no post-Malvolio society will easily overcome its crippling past.”
Shakespeare 2013 Review (Margaret Litvin)
Full abstract:Review of The Speaker’s Progress

With great flair and courage, Al Bassam presents a revolutionary play that exposes the corruption, repressiveness and intellectual terrorism that has ruled over the Arab world for so long. “
Al Qabas Newspaper, Kuwait (Susan Khawatmi)

“90 minutes that revolve like propelled atoms in the centrifuge of Freedom”
Al Nahar Lebanon, 27 September 2011 (Mai Mansa)

“A deeply challenging work for a complex historical moment…also funny, engaging and unique
Blast Magazine, USA, 14 October 2011 (Jason Rabin)
Full article: Stage Review – Speaker’s Progress at Arts Emerson

“Al-Bassam’s use of an adaptation of Twelfth Night as the central device in The Speaker’s Progress suggests not just that Shakespeare is the universal playwright, a writer for all times and places, but also that art’s power to subvert tyranny transcends eras and cultures.”
The Boston Globe, USA, 15 October 2011 (Don Aucoin)
Full article: The signs of ‘progress’

The Boston Globe, USA, 7 October 2011 (Christopher Wallenberg)
Full article: The Speaker’s Progress sees Twelfth Night through a Kuwaiti lens

Holland Festival blog, 6 June 2012 (Veerle Corstens)

Geslaagd spel met historiche perspectieven
Theaterkrant, 6 June 2012 (Moos van den Broek)

“In this beautifully subtle play The Speaker’s Progress, Shakespeare’s words become a revolutionary weapon”
De Dodo, 7 June 2012 (Daniel Bertina)

How the Arab Spring revitalized the Kuwaiti playwright’s passion
Rolling Stone, Middle East, 1 November 2011 (Janne Louise Andersen)
Full article: Sulayman Al Bassam’s Progress

Radio interview with Jeffrey Brown for PBS Newshour Artbeat, 7 October 2011

“what stands out is the compelling energy and stagecraft of this production, which confirms the power of theater, in talented hands, to tell a story that crosses languages and worlds”
The Bay State Banner, USA, 20 October 2011
Full article: Al Bassam tackles a universal quest in the age of Middle East dictatorships

Arts Emerson tumblr blog

The Hub Review blogspot (Thomas Garvey)

Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene blog (Amy Tighe)

Hide full list

“Lively and savagely funny… Al-Bassam has created a Richard who is less the scourge of his time than the essence of it, a combustible ruler for a combustible society.
The New York Times, USA, 11 June 2009 (Ben Brantley)

“Carried off with great brio… this is a punchy, irreverent makeover that retools Shakespeare for the world of Saddam, the CIA and the House of Saud
The Guardian, UK (Brian Logan)

“Few works catch the various currents within Arabism and Islam such as Al-Bassam…it is seldom that one sees a Shakespearean reworking that is so consistently enlightening while also retaining considerable dramatic power.
The Financial Times, UK, 15 February 2007 (Ian Shuttleworth)
Full article: Richard III An Arab Tragedy, Swan Theatre, Stratford upon Avon

“In this gripping production Al-Bassam has found the perfect correlative to Shakespeare’s poetry. The collision between past and present is smack-on.
The Daily Telegraph, UK, 15 February 2007 (Dominic Cavendish)
Full article: Putting the sheikh into Shakespeare

“It is your right to ignore me,” mad Margaret announces in the play’s prologue. This production makes that impossible.
The New York Times, USA, 11 June 2009 (Ben Brantley)
Full article: Gloucester’s Emir, Handsome this time

“an estimable example of artistic cross-fertilization”
The Washington Post, USA, 9 Mar 2009 (Peter Marks)
Full article: Richard III An Arab Tragedy at Terrace Theater

“I searched for a universal story told within the Muslim context and found it in this production of Richard III’“Joseph Melillo (Brooklyn Academy of Music)
The Village Voice, USA, 12 May 2009 (Alexis Soloski)
Full article: BAM’s Muslim Richard III

Radio interview with Jeffrey Brown, PBS Newshour, USA, 24 February 2009

Video clip from the production for PBS Artbeat

Radio interview with Jacki Lyden, NPR (National Public Radio) USA

Full article: He’ll smile, and smile and be a (Pan-Arabic) villain

Radio interview with Karen Frillman for WNYC, USA, 11 June 2009

BBC News video report Arab Culture goes Stateside on the Kennedy Center’s Arabesque Festival in which Richard III An Arab Tragedy played its US premier

Sulayman comments on the different audience reactions to the piece for Inside Media

The National, United Arab Emirates, 02 Feb 2009
Full article: Shakespeare studied in Arabic (Anna Seaman)

David Bootti’s video clip from the UAE premier at Al Ain, for Inside the National

Academic Reviews
“No doubt this already tight and fascinating production will continue to grow both funnier and deeper, and the surtitles will evolve to contain less of Shakespeare’s text and more of Al-Bassam’s.

Shakespeare Bulletin 2007 (Margaret Litvin, Yale University)
Full abstract: Project Muse – Theatre Reviews: Richard III An Arab Tragedy [pdf download]

“Al-Bassam begins his play, then, not with a man, but a woman; with a woman who is not English, but declares herself to be Arab; not with a theatrical star, but with a marginal figure; and not with one of victors who, in Walter Benjamin’s formulation, normally have the privilege of writing history, but with one of the defeated.”
Critical Review – Volume 19, Number 3, 2007 (Graham Holderness)
Full abstract: From Summit to Tragedy: Sulayman Al Bassam’s Richard III and Political Theatre [pdf download]

“Al-Bassam’s canny geopolitical translation of Richard III took advantage of the extreme adaptability of Shakespeare to examine the vicious plasticity of power”
Routledge Shakespeare – Volume 5, Number 4, December 2009 (Joseph Campana)
Full abstract [pdf download]

Global Shakespeare

Other media
A 3-camera recording of the performance at Al Ain Fortress, United Arab Emirates (2009), is now available with English surtitles. Please contact us to order a copy

The award-winning documentary Richard III, an Arab VIP is available for screening.
The film follows SABAB’s pan Arab troupe of actors as they travel between the USA and the Middle East, rehearsing and performing. Behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast, crew and audiences raise issues of politics and freedom of expression in the Arab world.
70 minutes in English and Arabic with subtitles
Filmed and Directed by Shakir Abal and Tim Langford
Video trailer

Hide full list

Richard III An Arab Tragedy


International press dossier

“A fascinating and clever play, revisiting a Middle Eastern literary masterpiece, offering rare insight into a critical period and exploring how the two resonate in today’s volatile world…powerful stuff.
The Financial Times, UK (Sarah Hemming)

“Explosive, gutsy and brilliantly acted
Time Out, UK, 15 May 2006 (Emma John)

“Inventively staged, ferociously acted…through it, Al-Bassam asserts the power of the stories themselves to bring about destruction – or creation.”
The New Statesman, UK, 5 June 2006 (Marina Warner) [pdf download]

“An enormously important and timely re-invention of Arab history”
Al-Qabas Daily, Kuwait, 2006

“The show finds its voice in swirling images, a brilliant mix of video and eerie soundscape, and a use of the space that makes it feel as if the whole production is bleeding at the edges. ...Its final 20 minutes are extraordinary, as every aspect of the production comes together in a strange, almost hallucinatory sequence of theatrical power and beauty.
The Guardian, UK (Lyn Gardner)

“The constantly flowing images that make up this piece are like shards of a broken mirror offering vivid glimpses into a Middle Eastern past and reflecting back to us our present.  The resonances emerge powerfully…its eloquence is visceral and visual.
The Times, UK, May 2006 (Sam Marlowe)

“These tales combine the wisdom of India, the sophistication of Persia, and the poetry of the Arabs.”
Tah Hussein

“To be a playwright in the Arab world is often a delicate balancing act between censorship and speaking truth to power.”
BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves interview (transcript), May 2006 [pdf download]

Sulayman talks with Andrew Marr and Frank Gardner
BBC Radio 4 ‘Start the Week’ interview (transcript), 5 May 2006  [pdf download]

Hide full list

The Mirror for Princes – Kalila Wa Dimna


English press dossier
Arabic press dossier

“One of the most intriguing and intelligent pieces I have seen”
The Financial Times, UK, 16 August 2002 (Ian Shuttleworth)

“The most daring piece of political theatre”
The Times, UK, 12 August 2002 (David Stenhouse)

“Al-Bassam’s reworking of Shakespeare’s play is a brilliantly simple theatrical conjuring trick that has Elsinore fitting the current explosive state of Middle East politics like a silk glove.”
The Guardian, UK, 13 March 2004 (Lyn Gardner)

“This work is about as original and pulse-quickening as you could wish.
The Times, UK, 12 March 2004 (Donald Hutera)

“Staged with hypnotic force”
The Independent, UK, 11 March 2004 (Paul Taylor)

“astonishing, electrifying…I doubt whether this year’s Festival will produce another show so directly relevant to the nightmare that is brewing in the Middle East, or so vivid and eloquent in the theatrical means it uses to confront it.”
The Scotsman, UK, 8 August 2002 (Joyce MacMillan)

Al-Hamlet is a superbly constructed dramatisation of a society’s descent into fundamentalism and chaosurgent, vital; sublime.
The Sunday Herald, Scotland, August 2002 (Tim Abrahams)

“a disarming mix of Arab oral poetry and modern political rhetoric”
The Financial Times, UK, 10 March 2004 (Alistair Macaulay)

“Al-Bassam daringly transposes Shakespeare’s classic play to modern Middle Eastern setting”
The Daily Star, Lebanon, 29 March 2004 (Ali Jaafar, Outlook) [pdf download]

Hamlet Bin Hamlet. Sulayman Al Bassam fuses Shakespeare with the Middle East
Emerging Kuwait, 2006 [pdf download]

Culture Wars interview with Shirely Dent [pdf download]

Academic Reviews
“Sulayman Al Bassam’s experiments in the adaptation of Shakespearean drama seem at first glance to be mainly concerned with the sphere of politics…At the same time, Al Bassam is clearly trying to do something else with Shakespeare, something that goes beyond political parallels and ironic commentary on the state of the Middle East.  He is attempting to create new kinds of theatrical language and new forms of cultural mediation.

European Journal of English Studies, 2006 (Graham Holderness)
Full abstract: Silence Bleeds [pdf download]

When the villain steals the show: the character of Claudius in post-1975 Arab(ic) Hamlet adaptations (Margaret Litvin)
Journal of Arabic Literature XXXVIII, 2, 2007  [pdf download]

Hide full list

The Al Hamlet Summit


English press dossier

“An important milestone in Arab political theatre
Majalat Al-Funoon, Kuwait

Melting the Ice


“The most risk-taking show on the fringe. Sulayman Al Bassam seems capable of taking on any theatrical convention, anytime, anywhere. Watch out for the name
The Stage, UK, August 1996

“Poetic, intensely physical, marvelously inventive
The Scotsman, UK, August 1996

Everyman (Dreaming in Car Parks)