American Univesity of Beirut

The Dictator


​​​Originally titled The General (Al General) before it fell into the snares of censorship, The Dictator (Al Diktator) by Lebanese playwright Issam Mahfouz tells the story of a tyrant with grandiose delusions about his purpose in the world. The play is an absurdist classic from 1968 that can be described as a minimalist mixture of Ionesco, Plautus, and Beckett, with fierce and hilarious jabs at despotism in the Arab world. It is the second entry in an incomplete trilogy.

Sahar Assaf's English-language adaptation of the play premiered at the 2015 Between the Seas Festival in New York, with Raffi Feghali and Sany Abdul Baki occupying the roles of the dictator and his comic assistant, respectively. Around the same time, the Lebanese American University's (LAU's) New York headquarters hosted an excerpt performance from the play followed by a panel discussion titled,  "Conversation on​​​ Contemporary Beirut Theater." The play was translated by Nada Saab and Robert Myers, and performed with the support of the Tahweel Ensemble Theatre, the Theater Initiative, LAU, and the Martin Segal Theatre Center. In 2016, ten years after Mahfouz's passing, the play went on to tour Lebanese cities in its original Arabic, with Feghali reprising his role and Assaf taking over the role of the assistant. ​​​​​

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