Decentering the Bard: The Localization of King Lear in Egyptian TV Drama Dahsha
Selim, Yasser Fouad
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Dahsha [Bewilderment] is an Egyptian TV series written by scriptwriter Abdelrahim Kamal and adapted from Shakespeare’s King Lear. The TV drama locates Al Basel Hamad Al Basha, Lear’s counterpart, in Upper Egypt and follows a localized version of the king’s tragedy starting from the division of his lands between his two wicked daughters and the disinheritance of his sincere daughter till his downfall. This study examines the relationship between Dahsha and King Lear and investigates the position of the Bard when contextualized in other cultures, revisited in other locales, and retold in other languages. It raises many questions about Shakespeare’s proximity to the transcultural/transnational adaptations of his plays. Does Shakespeare’s discourse limit the interpretation of the adapted works or does it promote intercultural conversations between the varying worldviews? Where is the Bard positioned when contextualized in other cultures, revisited in other locales, and retold in other languages? Does he stand in the center or at the margin? The study attempts to answer these questions and to read the Egyptian localization of King Lear as an independent work that transposes Shakespeare from a central dominant element into a periphery that remains visible in the background of the Upper Egyptian drama.