A recording of a reading of Tawfiq al-Hakim’s 1933 play The People of the Cave on September 16, 2015. Anna Della Subin introduced the play. Gina Alhadeff starred as the Princess Priska, Omar Berrada as Marnush, Robyn Creswell as the King, Sukhdev Sandhu as Mishlinya, Emily Stokes as the tutor Gallias, and Eliot Weinberger as the shepherd Yamlikha.
Writer and editor Anna Della Subin presents a reading of Tawfiq al-Hakim’s 1933 play The People of the Cave as part of Triple Canopy’s The Long Tomorrow issue. The play, based on the legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, which also appears in the Qur’an, tells the story of three Christian men and a dog who awaken in a cave after fleeing from persecution by their pagan king. Upon venturing out, the men discover that three hundred years have passed, and must come to terms with a transformed world. Though hailed in literary circles as a landmark in Egyptian drama, the play flopped with audiences, some of whom fell asleep.
The People of the Cave, and the myth that inspired it, are the subject of Subin’s forthcoming ebook from Triple Canopy, Not Dead But Sleeping. The long essay, prompted by the 2011 Egyptian uprisings, traces the origins and incarnations of the sleepers, a story told and retold at moments of political awakening. It considers the myth’s speculative uses and revolutionary potential, poetically pushing back against Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous dictum that “There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution.”
Subin will introduce the play, starring Gini Alhadeff as the Princess Priska, Omar Berrada as Marnush, Robyn Creswell as the King, Sukhdev Sandhu as Mishlinya, Emily Stokes as the tutor Gallias, and Eliot Weinberger as the shepherd Yamlikha.
- Anna Della Subin writes for publications such as the London Review of Books, the New York Times, and the White Review, among others. She is a contributing editor at Bidoun.
- Gini Alhadeff is the author of The Sun at Midday: Tales of a Mediterranean Family and Diary of a Djinn, and editor and translator of the anthology My Poems Won’t Change the World by Patrizia Cavalli.
- Omar Berrada is a writer and translator, and the director of Dar al-Ma’mûn, a library and residency center for artists, scholars, and writers located on the outskirts of Marrakech. He is a core member of the bilingual poetry collective Double Change and of the intercultural arts organization Tamaas, and is currently living in Brooklyn.
- Robyn Creswell teaches comparative literature at Yale University and is poetry editor of the Paris Review.
- Sukhdev Sandhu directs the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at New York University and is the author of Night Haunts: A Journey Through the London Night. He also writes for Bidoun, the Wire, the Guardian, and many other publications.
- Emily Stokes is articles editor at T: The New York Times Style Magazine.
- Eliot Weinberger is the series editor of Calligrams: Writings from and on China (New York Review Books) and the literary editor of the Murty Classical Library of India (Harvard University Press). His forthcoming book of essays, The Ghosts of Birds, will be published by New Directions next year.