Oct 12 - 16, 2011

In a totalitarian state somewhere in the Arab World, all forms of theatre have been banned, but a condemned 1960’s classic play has become the focal point for resistance blogs and underground, dissident Twitter movements…

The Speaker’s Progress uses Twelfth Night as a starting point to explore events in the Middle East, transforming Shakespeare’s comedy into a satire on the decades of political inertia that have fed recent revolts across the Arab region and a daring theatrical metaphor for the mechanisms of dissent. The piece will evolve as circumstances in the region change, emphasizing the rapid pace of revolution among courageous citizens seeking freedom. This is a rare chance to see a major Middle Eastern theatre company’s provocative and inspiring work.

"A new history is finding its voice among the millions across the Arab world who stood up and continue to stand—and fall—for dignity and freedom after decades of shame and oppression. This play, forged at the cusp of these two eras, has the fortune—and the responsibility—to be one of its platforms.” — Sulayman Al-Bassam


About Sulayman Al-Bassam

The internationally celebrated work of writer/director Sulayman Al-Bassam has been awarded the Kuwait State Arts Encouragement Award, Edinburgh Fringe First Award, and the Best Director and Best Performance Awards (Cairo International Festival of Experimental Theatre). Under his direction, SABAB has achieved worldwide acclaim, performing across four continents.

Learn more about the buzz around The Speaker’s Progress!

Opening Night Sponsor WBUR will host a special post-performance discussion moderated by On Point’s Tom Ashbrook, featuring director/writer Sulayman Al-Bassam. Join the conversation on how the play has evolved with the ongoing changes in the Arab world.


  • Location: Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre
  • Written and Directed by: Sulayman Al-Bassam
  • Artistic Producer: Georgina Van Welie
  • Production Designer: Sam Collins
  • Music Composer: Lewis Gibson
  • Lighting Designer: Marcus Doshi
  • Series: Pioneer
  • Ages: 13+
  • Running Time: 90 Minutes no Intermission