Translator's Preface

The open geographic nature of Tangier, in addition to the city’s historical marvels, make the city an attractive place to visit and a rich cultural and poetic spring that quenches any inspirational thirst. It is not a wonder, therefore, that artists from all over the world have chosen the city as a retreat for enhancing their creative talents. Artists of different fields and trends such as Eugene Delacroix, Henri Matisse and Paul Bowles flourished in this wonderful city. Others like Alexandre Dumas, Pierre Loti and Edmondo de Amicis wrote striking literary texts about the city they had visited but never forgotten. A number of Moroccan writers as well deem the city as their source of inspiration like Tahar Ben Jelloun, Mohamed El-Mrabet and Mohamed Timoud. Having been for decades a nest for artists of varying fields, Tangier constantly generates prominent artists like the father of Moroccan oil painting Mohamed Ben Ali Rebati, the prominent writer Mohamed Choukri and more recently the young promising playwright Zoubeir Ben Bouchta.

Such artists create various valuable works that spread gradually all over the Arab world. Ben Bouchta, for instance, wrote a number of plays like Lalla J’mila and Ennar Elhamra that have been recently translated into English. Shakespeare Lane, however, had never been translated. The play was a real success on stage, and the fact that the first show was performed in Tangier is in itself an outstanding merit. I was drawn to Shakespeare Lane since it broadly highlights the intricate realities of Moroccan society ―from the city’s historical background right up to the main features of modern Tangier― yet it has universal relevance addressing world-wide issues such as social and political corruption and terrorism threatening peace and security the world over.

The richness of the play not only concerns the formalist aspects such as events and characters, but it mainly involves the historical and social themes reaching deep into consciousness in a subtle and indirect manner. Thus, the very nature of the work, as a literary text as well as a performance, provided great motivation for me to tackle the translation of the play. Furthermore, having read and watched thoroughly the play a number of times and having realized the genuine value of the work, I have deemed it as a moral obligation to translate such impressive work and to transmit it, thus, to a larger range of recipients all over the world. From another perspective, I have deemed the translation of this play as a modest contribution to the great work Dr. Khalid Amine presents through his different activities in the field of performance studies, and especially through the remarkable Annual Tangier International Conferences. I also aim to give my moral support to our ambitious eminent playwright Ben Bouchta, sparking thus the recent cultural resurgence of our charming city – Tangier. Hence, Shakespeare Lane interests me as a translator, as a Tanjawi, and a lover and student of this fascinating city.

Translating Shakespeare Lane was a thorny task but a most agreeable journey. The difficulties I faced translating the play are mainly associated with the special intricacy of Moroccan dialectical Arabic, as well as with the very nature of the work as a genuine artistic depiction of Moroccan and Tanjawi society throughout many different eras. The translation of the play is the core of this work. It shall be preceded by two additional prefaces: by the editor, Dr. Roberson and by the playwright, Mr. Ben Bouchta. These statements serve to further explain our collaborative efforts and to contextualize and summarize the historical, cultural and social background of the play.
―Rajae Khaloufi