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Theatre from Medieval Cairo: The Ibn Dāniyāl Trilogy (Egypt)

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Apr 8, 2013
Apr 8, 2013
Segal Theatre

Cover Image: Manuscript Illumination.
Folio from a copy of Al-Jaziri’s Treatise Automata,
Mameluk Dynasty, (1206 AD).

With Co-Editors and Co-Translators Marvin Carlson and Safi Mahfouz + Noor Theatre

New York’s Noor Theatre presents the world premiere of irreverent readings from three of Ibn Dāniyāl’s saucy puppet plays, brought to you in their first-ever English translation by Safi Mahfouz (UNRWA University, Jordan, Fulbright postdoctoral Segal Center Visiting Scholar) and renowned theatre historian Marvin Carlson (The Graduate Center, CUNY). Discovered by German orientalist Georg Jacob (1862-1937), these texts are among the earliest secular plays known to humankind. With their English translations now forthcoming from Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications, Mahfouz and Carlson, together with Noor Theatre, offer us a glimpse into Dāniyāl’s spicy Cairo underworld of pimps, prostitutes, and dirty dealing, as well as the practice of street performance in medieval Cairo.

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Marvin Carlson is the Sidney E. Cohn Distinguished Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His research and teaching interests include dramatic theory and Western European theatre history and dramatic literature, especially of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. He has been awarded the ATHE Career Achievement Award, the George Jean Nathan Prize, the Bernard Hewitt prize, the George Freedley Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been a Walker-Ames Professor at the University of Washington, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Indiana University, a Visiting Professor at the Frëie Universitat of Berlin, and a Fellow of the American Theatre. In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Athens. His best-known book, Theories of the Theatre (Cornell University Press, 1993), has been translated into seven languages. His 2001 book The Haunted Stage won the Calloway Prize. His newest book, in addition to Three Plays from Cairo, is Theatre in North Africa (Palgrave, 2011).

Dr. Safi Mahmoud Mahfouz is an Associate Professor of Modern American Literature-drama and theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Literatures. He is the Head of the Department of English Language and Literature at the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Arts at UNRWA University in Amman/Jordan. Currently he is a Fulbright postdoctoral visiting scholar of Arabic drama in translation at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His research interests cover a wide range of topics including modern American literature, American canonical drama, American ethnic theaters, Middle Eastern literatures, world literature, comparative literature, literary theory and contemporary poetics, postmodernism, ethnicity, diaspora, and postcolonialism. Dr. Mahfouz has published many articles in international peer-reviewed journals in the United States, Britain and Canada.