Politics on Egyptian Stage: Agitprop in Salah Abdel Sabour’s Play The Tragedy of Al-Hallag (Published)
Political theatre is as old as theatre itself. A number of serious political plays exist in Classic Greek theatre, like Antigone (441 BC) by Sophocles and Lysistrata by Aristophanes (performed in classical Athens in 411 BC). Shakespeare also presented various political plays likes Julius Caesar (1599) based on true events from Roman history, and Coriolanus (written between 1505-1608) based on the life of the legendary Roman leader Coriolanus. Moreover, Bertolt Brecht contributed to political theatre, especially through his play The Resistible Rise of Urturo Ui (1941) which allegorizes the rise of Hitler to power and depicts the rise of Arturo Ui, a fictional 1930s Chicago mobster who cruelly disposes of his opposition. The German theatre director and producer Erwin Piscator (1893-1966), who is one of the pioneers of modern political theatre in the west, emphasized the socio-political content of drama and highlighted – in the background of the events – the effect of politics on individuals. Moreover, in the late 20th century several angry political shows enabled black authors to gain a foothold in creating successful musical theatre as Melvin van Peebles’s Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death (1971), and the musical revue staged in 1971 Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope by Micki Grant. Such plays combine a considerable amount of entertainment with political messages.
Keywords: Agitprop, Al-Hallag, Egyptian stage, Politics, Salah Abdel Sabour’s play, tragedy