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Popular Culture and the Performing Arts

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A website for K-12 educators featuring innovative resource on the culture, geography, history and religions of the Middle East, including essays, classroom activities, downloadable multimedia content and interactive Google Earth tours.


This section contains video and audio materials, most of which have not appeared online before. While we have made an effort to keep the file sizes and running times small, some of the clips may take a long time to download, particularly from a dialup connection. Each clip comes with a text description, and many of the interviews have been transcribed. To view clips on our site, you will need the free QuickTime plugin

Collections of related audio and video materials are listed in tan. Items listed in grey are in the process of being digitized, and will be available soon.

QuickTime Audio and Video Clips

Music | Film | Dance | Theater

The Arab Theatrical Arts Guild, based in Dearborn, Michigan, was founded by Ray Alcodray, who also serves as its Managing Director. The company has performed adaptations of Broadway plays in Arabic, as well as great works of Arabic theater, to much acclaim. Alcodray describes the company as follows, “ATAG is not just an Arab original, we’re an Arab-American original - providing a positive image for all Arab-Americans while providing a cultural entrée for the whole community."

The company’s statement regarding its artistic vision is also enlightening: “This style is born of a cultivation of the classical disciplines of traditional theater, recognizing the special importance of Arab culture and values. It is a style that recognizes our presence as a company in a community whose home is in Michigan, whose members are American, and whose heart is sometimes in the mother country." This section contains two clips each from two ATAG productions: Russasa fi Al-Qalb (Bullet to the Heart) by the great Egyptian playwright Tawfik el-Hakim, and an Arab-American adaptation of The Marriage Proposal, adapted from Chekhov’s play by Yussef El Guindi.

A Bullet to the Heart [Russasa fi Al-Qalb]
It is not just because of el-Hakim's stature in Arab theatre that ATAG has felt the need to introduce him to a local American audience. It is also because the play we have chosen seems to be eminently suitable in crossing the cultural divide which separates an Arabic speaking audience from an English speaking one. The Play A Bullet To The Heart is a simple story well told. The bullet that is referred to is Cupid's arrow. It is the shooting glance of love that captivates the heart and opens a wound in it that can only be healed by the ministrations of the loved one. The script chosen, though written as a stage play, has had a long and successful history as a movie. Video tapes of this 1930's musical still circulate at video stores in Dearborn as well as the Arab World. As the play unfolds the characters fall in and out of love and finally the young man must make a choice to respect his friend's trust or abandon it for the love of a woman he has just met. It is because this minor act of heroism is achieved without sentimentality that the play maintains its integrity and has continued to charm audiences for the last four decades.

The Marriage Proposal by Anton Chekhov, adapted by Yussef El Guindi
Yussef El Guindi, originally from Egypt, makes his home in Seattle, Washington. Yussef has held the post of playwright-in-residence and taught playwriting and dramatic literature at Duke University for seven years. Active as a poet, playwright, and filmmaker, his last poem – Crossing Borders – was published on placards and placed on buses as part of Seattle's "Poetry and Art on Buses" mobile exhibit.

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