...this original and scholarly study upsets received theories on the history of the dramatic art in Arabic...[and] opens up fascinating, new and unexpected vistas...
--R.B. Serjeant, Emeritus Prof. of Arabic, Cambridge University
A very bold and almost heroic act by Shmuel Moreh, challenging the omnipresent belief that the roots of the theatre among the Arabs are to be found in the West...Professor Moreh extends the horizon of our knowledge and illuminates it with thoroughly researched material.
--Peter Chelkowski, New York University
There has long been confusion among Arab and Occidental scholars concerning various types of medieval theatrical performances and mime. By translating certain theatrical terms to denote shadow plays, rather than live plays, scholars have misunderstood the foundations of Arabic theatre. This confusion has contributed to the widespread belief that Arabs had no live theatre in the Middle Ages, and that modern Arab theatre is simply a European transplant.
This exciting book uses detailed and scholarly research of impressive originality to prove that the pre-modern Arab world did have a tradition of live theatrical performance, not just one of shadow plays. Moreh illustrates how this cultural richness contributed to the formation of modern Arabic theatre. Covering a wide range of periods and cultures--from the ninth to the nineteenth centuries; from Greek, Jewish, Andalusian and Syriac influences--this work shows that Arab medieval theatre developed independently from European theatre. This is a book that will not only provide a wealth of new insights into the performing arts in the Middle East in general, but will restore a proper perspective on the scope and origins of Arab theatre.