Saadallah Wannous

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Saadallah Wannous
سعد الله ونوس
Born1941 (1941)
Husayn al Bahr, Tartous, Syria.
DiedMay 15, 1997(1997-05-15) (aged 55–56)
OccupationPlaywright, Writer

Saadallah Wannous (Arabic: سعد الله ونوس) (1941 – 15 May 1997) was a Syrian playwright, writer and editor on Arabic theater. He was born in the village of Hussein al-Bahr, near Tartous, where he received his early education. He studied journalism in Cairo, Egypt and later served as editor of the art and cultural sections of the Syrian official newspaper Al-Baath and the Lebanese daily As-Safir. For many years, he was also director of the department for music and theater in the Ministry for Culture and National Guidance of Syria.

In the late 1960s, he traveled to Paris where he studied theater and encountered various currents, trends, and schools of European theater. His career as a playwright had begun in the early Sixties with several short, one-act plays, characterized by his fundamental theme: the relationship between the individual and society and its authorities.


In the late 1960s, triggered by the Arab defeat of the 1967 war with Israel, political Arabic theater was born. The defeat resulted in the creation of a new level of awareness among artists and intellectuals, particularly toward the government-controlled mass media and its infiltration of popular culture. In 1969, joined by a group of playwrights, Wannous called for an Arab Festival for Theater Arts to be hosted in Damascus, later realized and attended by dramatists from all over the Arab world. In this festival, he introduced his new project: A "theater of politicization" to replace the traditional "political theater." He intended theater to play a more active role in the process of social and political change. His plays include Elephant, the King of All Times (1969), The King is the King (1977) and Hanthala's Journey from Slumber to Consciousness (1978).

In the late 1970s, Wannous helped establish and later taught at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus. He also started the magazine Theater Life (Hayyat al-masrahiya), of which he was editor-in-chief for years. In 1982, in the aftermath of the Israeli siege and invasion of Beirut, he lived through a period of shock, and ceased to write for a decade. Back to writing in the early 1990s, Wannous delivered to Arabic theater a series of plays no less political than their predecessors, starting with The Rape (1990), a play about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Afterwards, he wrote Fragments from History (1994), Rituals of Signs and Transformations (1994), Miserable Dreams (1995), A Day of Our Time (1995), and finally Mirage Epic (1996).

In 1996, he was selected by UNESCO and the International Institute of Theater, to present that year's address to the world theater community during its celebration of International Theater Day on March 27. This was the first selection of an Arab writer since the organization started this tradition in 1963.

Personal life[edit]

His daughter Dima Wannous is a journalist, writer and novelist.


On May 15, 1997, he died of cancer, a disease he had battled for 5 years.[1]

Selected works[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Wannous, Saadallah. The Syrian Encyclopedia, Damascus Online".
  2. ^ Beskova (Kobzosova), Katarina (2015). "Sa'dallah Wannus and the Theatre of Politicization". Asian and African Studies. 24 (2) – via