Perfect, impossible love has always enflamed the poet’s imagination. In Arab literature it is embodied by an old legend of a love against the odds, transformed by history into a myth: Majnūn Layla (Layla’s Madman). According to this legend, the poet Qays from the Banu ‘Amir tribe fell in love with his cousin Layla, but her parents refused to marry her to him, because in defiance of the rules of the tribe, Qays had written many poems about Layla chanting her beauty. Layla was then married to another man, and Qays, out of despair, went to wander in the desert like a madman until his death.
Last March, a well-known Tunisian critic wondered about the
motivations that had led Mohamed Driss, the head of the Tunisian
National Theatre and one of the greatest directors in the country, to
direct a Shakespeare play:
What is today the purpose of reproducing a Shakespearean tragedy,
when all over the world directors are desperately searching for new
creative ways, new means for attracting a public who is more and more
disinterested by the theatre?