Global Faculty in Residence, Fall 2015
Playwright and theater director Al Bassam founded Zaoum Theatre in London in 1996. In 2002, with dramaturge Georgina Van Welie, he co-founded the SABAB Theatre, the Arabic arm of the company. Widely recognized as one of the leading contemporary Arab theater-makers, Al Bassam writes in English and directs theater in Arabic, English, and French, presenting his creations at leading international venues across the world, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Holland Festival, Royal Shakespeare Company, and La Comédie-Française. Often controversial in content and experimental in form, Al Bassam’s themes include explorations of war, identity, and sexual politics with a focus on the contemporary Arab World and the interstitial spaces between the Arab-Islamic world and the West. Productions include: Ritual for a Metamorphosis by Saadallah Al Wannous for La Comédie-Française, Paris, 2013, and Théâtre du Gymnase, Marseille, 2013; In the Eruptive Mode, Sydney Festival, 2013; The Speaker’s Progress, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, 2011; the Holland Festival, Amsterdam, 2012; and World Tour 2011-2012; Richard III–An Arab Tragedy, Royal Shakespeare Company Complete Works Festival, London, 2007; Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, 2009; and World Tour, 2009; The Mirror for Princes: Kalila Wa Dimna, Barbican BITE, London, 2006; Tokyo International Arts Festival, Tokyo, 2006; Dar al Athar al Islamiyyah, Kuwait, 2006; The Al-Hamlet Summit, Tokyo International Arts Festival, Tokyo, 2014; and World Tour, 2004. Current Projects include: Petrol Station, a new play in development as part of an Artist’s Residency at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and The Icarus Cycle, a cycle of plays inspired by ancient texts. The first part of this cycle, UR, is currently in development and was shown as the closing event of the 2015 edition of Le Festival des Ecrivains du Monde, presented by Columbia Global Centre (Paris) and Le Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Al Bassam’s published plays are The Al Hamlet Summit (University of Hertfordshire Press, 2006), Kalila wa Dimna, The Mirror for Princes (Oberon Books, 2006), and The Arab Shakespeare Trilogy (Methuen/Bloomsbury, 2014).