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Staging Silence: Arab Women's Cancer Experience

Hamdar, Abir

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This paper offers a critical reflection on the play I Am Waiting for You [Wasafuli Al-Sabr] which was written by the author and directed by Lina Abyad. Based on extensive interviews with real-life female cancer patients from the Arab world, the play was the first dramatic staging of Arab women’s experience of cancer. To summarise, the paper begins by underlining that the history of women’s cancer in the Arab World has hitherto been a history of silence – of shame, taboo, prohibition, and repression – before going on to reflect upon the creative, textual, and dramatic strategies the play deployed to make this silence ‘speak.’ The essay then focuses on the ways in which this unspoken and unexpressed experience of cancer itself became a (necessary) artistic medium by which the subjectivity of women who had experienced cancer could be articulated. In particular, the essay addresses three layers or forms of silence in the play: (1) the silence of the women the author interviewed; (2) how silence functioned as a structural device or trope within the play and, finally and most importantly, (3) how this silence could be resisted, if not verbally, then at least physically and materially.


Hamdar, A. (2021). Staging Silence: Arab Women's Cancer Experience. Studies in Theatre and Performance, 41(2), 197-211.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 3, 2019
Online Publication Date Oct 28, 2019
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Oct 11, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 28, 2021
Journal Studies in Theatre and Performance
Print ISSN 1468-2761
Electronic ISSN 2040-0616
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 2
Pages 197-211


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