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Updated: May 12, 2021

Abu Khalil Qabbani's theatre in Damascus was burned. And this nineteenth century playwright was forced to leave his home when the Ottoman government issued a statement preventing the staging of his plays.

The playwright's name in Arabic, read right to left.
Abu Khalil Qabbani

One of the earliest playwrights of modern Arabic theatre, Qabbani is regarded as the founder of the short musical plays in Arabic theatre; yet the shocking scarceness of information on his life and work in the public domain conveys a strong message of our gross cultural negligence.

It can be observed that the need to study, update and bridge the existing gaps in world art and literature, irrespective of the foreignness of languages, is fundamental to understanding our collective theatre and cultural history, globally.

Qabbani's play Abu al-Hassan al-Mughaffal mocking Caliph Harun al-Rashid is believed to have fuelled a protest against him and a "statement of proceeding" was issued against him. He soon moved to Egypt and eventually to Chicago; there, too, his theatre dream was nipped. He returned to Damascus and breathed his last there, shortly after, in 1902.


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