Theater: "Rue Shakespeare"

Scene from Rue Shakespeare, Tangier, Morocco, Roberson © 2007

Synopsis of the Play

Rue Shakespeare

By a pen never touched by Shakespeare's fingertips

By Zoubir Ben Bouchta

Synopsis translated from the original Classical Arabic by Rajae Khaloufi

The play "The Alley of Shakespeare" is only a fragment of the history of a city: some overlapping lives climbing the walls of memory like winterberry, some characters living to narrate their lives and others living to live their elapsed epochs in the coming times. "The Alley of Shakespeare" is also the third part of a trilogy overshadowed by the title "The Hotel of Tangier." I had dreamt of realizing the trilogy when I had finished its first part "0 Wave Sing." My dream had grown greater when I had written its second part Lalla J'mila. A tie exists among the three parts. It is not a story, nor a character, nor a flourishing of an event. It is simply a history of a city and of creatures that it has and would pass by it; a memory of the self that takes after it the collective in a playful narration; a narration living and breathing with the characters relating to it. The alley of Shakespeare is nothing else than a hopeless and a difficult love story. Lovers meet and share the space of a garden of an English styled house where one can breathe love without contact or carnality. Conflicts and hereditary rancor transform the tangled emotions into a hopeless love. From the sites of Tangier some words well out. They make of the past the geography of the present to become a text coining the stories of its characters out of the soil of portrayal and the chemistry of flashback. Does Marshana reciprocate love with Albarrani? Hesitancy is the response of this question. Her state of affairs is constantly reiterating: "do I love him or not? That is the question." Yet the presence of Albarrani - who works with her as a gardener - the blooming her life is the essential. Most important of all of these is controlling this fancy within her. She does not want these emotions to appear to people, not even to Albarrani himself. She goes further in rebuking herself when she blames herself for this love since she is simply a married woman and a mother of a child suffering from a chronic illness.

Submitting to the will of the departed father Si Istanbuli, Marshana marries Mehdi a marriage of convenience after forsaking her relationship with Albarrani without ability to forget him. It is hopeless love that the discrepancies of her emotions and the historical enmity between the grandfathers and the parents of Marshana and Albarrani render more hopeless. Within this background, replete with ebbing and flowing waves of emotions, the storms of the rancor Lady R'himu (the nurse) conceals against the secret lovers (Marshana and Albarrani) blow. R'himu plays a scheme: she provokes Marshana against Albarrani, then Mehdi (Marshana's husband) against the two all together through feigning a slander. The illusive love letter is the event that brings the matter into a scandal. The "Alley of Shakespeare" is not only a two or a threefold love story, it is also characters springing from the ashes of memory to shine on stage [bearing] the elegance of the past in the raiment of present. Bu Mwaret the Fqih appointed by the law to settle the heritage of Lady Scott. Capy Sauta with a country guitar, clinging to the hippie utopianism he had absorbed in the internal market when throngs of hippies went to Tangier in the sixties and seventies. Mehdi the son of a dancer who used to inflame with her body Barbara Hutton's soirées in her gardens in the Qasbah quarter. He pretends political strife and confinement and juggles titles and positions to defraud and burglarize individual and collective realties. He is a disciplined clown who masters playing with procedures and laws without losing his legal equilibrium with his clownish dancing. He is also a professional fraud who knows well how to benefit from democracy. Yet how relevant is Shakespeare to "The Alley of Shakespeare"? First, it is the name of a court in the Marshan where the English presence in the international Tangier was eminent and of a magical supremacy. Second, Shakespeare symbolizes manipulating themes that his major tragedies are renowned with like Hamlet, Othello and Romeo and Juliet. These themes take their human dimension, in a century other than the sixteenth and seventeenth ones, with the characters and stories of this alley that boasts of bearing the name of Shakespeare. Hopeless love, slander, jealousy, envy, hatred, vengeance and fortune and power conflicts in "The Alley of Shakespeare" reflect a reading springing from the life of our society today by a pen never touched by Shakespeare's fingertips.

(from a handout at the show on February 9, 2007)

Show Handbill
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