Editor's Preface

The present work, Shakespeare Lane, is an English language version of Zoubeir Ben Bouchta’s play Zanqat Shakespeare. It is the result of a diligent five stage creative / collaborative process. Firstly, working in Arabic, Ben Bouchta wrote, published and performed the play. Then working from the original script, Rajae Khaloufi completed an English translation in the autumn of 2007. Dr. Khalid Amine then did a side-by-side review of the two texts for precision and clarity of meaning. Then I put the text into contemporary U.S. American-English parlance to ensure that it was accessible and to retain its original lively character. Finally, the four of us met together to review details and to discuss the evolving product as it neared completion. Throughout the process, innumerable phone calls, emails, and conversations further strengthened the web of creative collaboration.[1]

Just as the play springs forth from the crossroads city of Tangier, so too does our collaborative team. A bit of my own geoautobiography[2] (in spatial rather than chronological terms) underscores the centrality and multidimensional significance of the city itself to the project. I was first exposed to the play when I was in the audience for a live performance presented by the Performing and Picturing Tangier International Conference[3] in February 2007. It was the second of a sort of double-bill exploring the city; first was a screening of German director Peter Goedel’s Tangier: Legend of City. The pairing made a wonderful study in contrasts and perspectives. Whereas the first looks from the outside in ―that is, made by foreigners and primarily featuring expatriates’ experiences of the city, the second looks from the inside in and inside out ―that is, Tanjawi’s looking deeply at themselves and also out at the world. Since I had given a paper at the conference calling for more attention to be drawn (especially in English) to the voices of city-insiders,[4] the play and the present work are theory put into practice.

Furthermore, I first met Rajae at the above mentioned conference. We quickly realized mutual interests and began a transatlantic exchange of ideas and work on another play translation by email. Since I was already familiar with the significance of the play and with the skills of the translator, I jumped at the chance to serve as editor. Consequently, I was formally invited into the project by Dr. Khalid Amine, my friend and chief collaborator during my one year tenure in Tangier as the Senior Fulbright Scholar to Morocco (2007-2008). Given the play’s post-colonial and autoethnographic[5] qualities, it fit well with my research agenda. Where English language stories about the city have often come from short-term outside perspectives, this translation begins to provide some counter balance as Ben Bouchta looks from an insider’s perspective probing deeply into the lives, histories, concerns, and challenges of contemporary Tanjawi society. Using Bard-like comedy and social commentary set in a magical garden, Shakespeare Lane persistently calls norms into question as it informs, surprises, and challenges the audience again and again. One point stands clear, the famous crossroads city is at a societal crossroads: what will the citizenry choose for their future?

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The editing process posed some unique challenges. To maintain and reflect the richness and polyphony of the city, some non-English words have been retained in the text. These words are translated and explained in footnotes at their first appearance. Accordingly, the footnotes reflect the collaboration: some come from the original text while others were added during the translating and editing process. There are also instances where the original grammar and word choice were irregular, i.e. "Let me merge from my own eyelids" (p17) suggesting multiple meanings and interpretations; these too have been purposely retained.

I am indebted to the Moroccan American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (MACECE) in Rabat for funding my Fulbright research grant, to the International Centre for Performance Studies (ICPS) for funding the publication of this book, and to our collaborative team for their trust in me and their dedication to the project.
―George F. Roberson, PhD

[1] Additional information about the play project, along with future updates are available at http://interactive-worlds.blogspot.com/2008/02/shakespeare-lane.html
[2 ]More about this concept at http://interactive-worlds.blogspot.com/2006/12/dissertation-abstract.html [3] Information at http://icpsresearch.blogspot.com/2007/12/welcome.html
[4] Read the article at http://interactive-worlds.blogspot.com/2007/01/tangier-visualizing-city.html
[5] Read more about this concept at http://interactive-worlds.blogspot.com/2007/05/project-introduction.html