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Theatre company set up to champion work by Middle Eastern and North African playwrights

Hassan Abdulrazzak and Hannah Khalil
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Playwrights Hassan Abdulrazzak and Hannah Khalil have set up a theatre company to bring the work of Middle Eastern and North African writers to UK audiences.

It will be called Manara – meaning ‘beacon’ in Arabic – and Abdulrazzak and Khalil said their ambitions include creating an archive of classic Arabic plays translated in English.

Also including theatremaker Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso, the company has been set up to champion classic and contemporary plays by writers from countries such as Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

Plays from these countries will be among the first worked staged by Manara, taking the form of a series of readings at this year’s Shubbak festival of Middle Eastern arts.

The company said it would focus on readings initially, with one major event per year, but increasing in future subject to funding and partnerships.

It will also be seeking out classic Arabic plays and find funding to have them translated into English, if they have not been done so already, and make them available publicly.

In a joint statement, Abdulrazzak and Khalil said: “There is no Arab theatre company in the UK solely promoting the work of Arab writers, and as artists in this diaspora, we wanted to fill the void.

“Our purpose with Manara is to find and promote work by MENA writers, both new and classic plays, and to advocate and amplify the amazing work and writers who are already here.”

The plays being read at Shubbak, by writers Ahlam, Sahar Assaf and Wael Kadour and theatre company Zoukak, will be read as part of the festival at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill on July 13.

International: Shubbak – London’s window into Arab culture


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