Politics and poetics in the drama of Salāḥ 'Abd al-Sabūr and Wole Soyinka
Taxidou, Olga; Booth, Marilyn; Malpas, Simon
The originality of this study stems primarily from its comparative nature, with its substantive
focus on the Egyptian playwright Salāḥ 'Abd al-Sabūr who wrote in Arabic and the Nigerian
dramatist, Wole Soyinka (1934), writing in English. It thus attempts to address a gap in
comparative research which has so far been largely confined to comparative studies of either
Western writers and African counterparts or Western writers and Arab counterparts, but rarely
combined Arab and African writers. This thesis investigates selected dramatic works of the two
playwrights seeking to reveal the various manifestations of poetics and politics in their drama. The aim is to find the theatrical connection between the two dramatists, a connection that could
shed more light on the aesthetics of their drama and the sources of influence on them.
My main concern has been, firstly, to explore Nietzsche's influence on their drama; secondly,
to analyse the dynamic relationship between their dramatic content and the local cultural and
political environment of Egypt and Nigeria; and thirdly, to examine the use of history as a
means of addressing contemporary issues. The first chapter is a discussion of Soyink 's The
Bacchae of Euripides. It investigates the impact of Nietzsche's ideas, particularly those voiced
in The Birth of Tragedy (1872), on Soyink 's critic and dramatic perspectives.
In the second chapter 'Abd al-Sabūr' Night Traveller is discussed. In this chapter I attempt
to explore how the Egyptian playwright presente Nietzsche's theological ideas in dramatic
form. I also attempt to show how @Abd al-Sabūr adapted Nietzsche's concepts to fit in with the aesthetics of modern drama in Egyptian culture. Chapter Three examines the use of religion in
their drama. Religion features as an important source which afforded both @Abd al-Sabūr and Soyinka sufficient material for rituals, symbols, allusions, metaphors and language.
In Chapter Four, the dramatists' views and use of history is explored. The value of history
and its intricate relationship to aesthetics in drama is discussed within the frame of modernism
and in the light of Nietzsche's controversial ideas of history. Chapter Five examines the
interrelation between politics and poetics in the theatre of the two dramatists. It presents an
attempt at a postcolonial reading of selected plays. Chapter Six explores the image, role and
dilemma of the intellectual. The role assigned to this figure is important in understanding their
view of theatre and its function in society.
The thesis finally argues that both 'Abd al-Sabūr and Soyinka established a theatre that was
based on syncretism of indigenous traditions and foreign influence. Their dramatic works tackle
local issues in theatrical forms that are not necessarily indigenous. While @Abd al-Sabūr' drama was highly literary and its theatricality was not obviously compelling, Soyink 's possessed theatrical elements that made their performance vividly interesting for audiences.
Arabic drama; African drama; Egyptian drama; Nietzsche
The University of Edinburgh
Type of publication
Thesis or Dissertation; Doctoral; PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Edinburgh - University of Edinburgh
Added to C-A: 2023-01-31;10:49:28
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