“Tahrir Tales: Plays from the Egyptian Revolution promises an invaluable teaching and dramaturgical resource…The editors succeed in illuminating particularities of the political events of recent years without belaboring a gulf between the [English-speaking] readers and audiences they claim to seek and their Egyptian source texts. The plays are deftly and elegantly rendered in English, producing texts that Anglophone university students will be able to read and embody with little difficulty. The volume is thus a valuable resource for students and teachers interested in introducing audiences to a range of performance histories and political questions… [But] the value of Albakry and Maggor’s volume is not limited to students of theatre and drama. The collection also promises to be an excellent resource for students and teachers of the humanities writ large.” — Rayya El Zein, TDR: The Drama Review, Winter 2018.
My research centers on political theatre and drama in translation, with an emphasis on recent Arabic drama from Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. I am particularly interested in significant new dramatic works that have emerged during the “Arab Spring” uprisings of 2011 and their immediate aftermath. My research interrogates these plays as literary works, attending to themes, forms, and genre. More broadly, however, I situate these works in their social and historical contexts, looking to understand both the dramatists – their backgrounds, training, sources of inspiration, artistic and political objectives – and the dense ecosystem in which they operate, including social networks, artistic collaborations, cultural institutions, public venues, sources of funding, and audiences. To this end, I conduct research on dramatists and theatre companies through interviews, informal conversations, and observation of performances, discussions, and rehearsals. I combine this embedded perspective with artifacts from performances such as program notes, photographs, videos, promotional materials, reviews, news articles, and interviews in various media outlets.
I have translated nearly a dozen plays from Arabic to English and staged many of them in readings and productions across the U.S. (PEN World Voices, the Huntington Theatre Company, Harvard, Vanderbilt, Cornell, etc.) While at Cornell I have worked to raise the profile of “translation as scholarship” by helping to launch the “Translation Network” through the Society for the Humanities and organizing the major international conference Drama Across Borders, with a specific focus on the politics and poetics of theatre in translation.
I co-edited, co-translated and wrote the introduction to the anthology Tahrir Tales: Plays from the Egyptian Revolution (Seagull Books), which received a Literature in Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Tahrir Tales is a collection of ten Egyptian plays, translated from Arabic, that offer popular perspectives on the jubilation, terror, hope and heartbreak of mass uprising. In my in-depth introduction to the anthology, I embed these plays within a rich tapestry of performance events during the recent uprising and contextualize them within a long history of anti-colonial and radically democratic protest theatre in Egypt.
As a Fulbright scholar in the Middle East and North Africa Regional Research Program I studied Palestinian theatre and performance. I am currently working on a collection of new Palestinian drama in translation, Theatre Between Home and Exile: New Plays from Palestine, co-edited with Marvin Carlson and Mas’ud Hamdan (Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications). In addition, I am writing an article with Mas’ud Hamdan on “Khashabi Theatre in Haifa: Neoliberal Urbanization and the New Palestinian Cultural Nationalism,” which we first presented at the Performing and Media Arts Research Colloquium at Cornell University.
I have published reviews and articles in Modern Drama, Arab Stages, The Voice and Speech Review, American Theatre Magazine, and presented at the ASTR, and VASTA conferences.