Experimentation and the absurd in two plays by Syrian playwright Walīd Ikhlāṣī

Basilius Bawardi, Reem Ghanayem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Walīd Ikhlāṣī (1935–2022) is a modernist Syrian playwright who was part of a broader Arab movement experimenting with the theatre of the absurd. His experimental writings are based on a fundamental refusal to accept ready-made values–literary, cultural, or philosophical. In this experimentation he developed a truly unique style, set apart from his contemporaries. Examining two one-act plays: Ṭubūl al-iʿdām al-ʿasharah (The Ten Drums of Execution) and al-Mutʿah 21 (Pleasure 21), both published in 1965, this paper looks at his use of juxtaposition to create a productive ambiguity, and how this ambiguity is underscored in the works using author comments/stage direction, and varied techniques of dialogue. In both works, we find the tensions created by his experimentation bring forth a powerful sense of despair and injustice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-240
Number of pages13
JournalMiddle Eastern Literatures
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Arab theater
  • Syrian literature
  • Theatre of the absurd
  • Walīd Ikhlāṣī
  • experimentation


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