A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Folklore’s Impact On Arab Theatre

Issue 13
Folklore’s Impact  On Arab Theatre

Ayman Hammad (Egypt)

Folklore is fundamental to many cultures; it represents people’s past and present and influences their future. Folklore plays a role in forming personal and communal identities, and it helps to preserve rites, rituals and practices. A nation’s folklore plays a large role in its advancement.

If we understand the importance of folklore’s role, we understand that folklore must serve as an inspiration for the arts, especially theatre.

Folklore has always been essential to contemporary art and writers may use it to express their own concerns and aspirations and those of their people, especially at times when free expression is discouraged.

Arab playwrights draw from the eternal well-spring of Arab folklore, which promotes religious, cultural, historical and conventional values and which serves as a symbol of national identity. The writers’ reliance on folklore reflects their comprehension of it and their awareness of the reverence accorded to it.

Folklore inspires Arab playwrights to be creative and genuine, rather than simply describing their realities.
Modern playwrights have referenced folklore not as a nostalgic exercise, but to express topical concerns; playwrights add dimensions to folklore. This means that only creative writers who understand the critical role of folklore can make folklore relevant to the present day.

Folklore is not an end in itself, it is a creative tool. Folklore adapts to its social context.
When folklore is re-presented, it offers “a sound vision of reality… Both folklore and its new incarnation collaborate to combine the past and present, revealing insights into the collective subconscious. An analysis of folklore is also an analysis of contemporary thinking and its limitations. In other words, the present reflects the past, and the past reflects the present.”

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