December 27, 2005


Finally, All the World Can Be His Stage: The work of Adil Kadhim, once shaped by Hussein's censors, speaks of a more open society and a cultural bridge to the West. (Alissa J. Rubin, December 27, 2005, LA Times)

When Saddam Hussein was in power, Adil Kadhim would rise at 6 each morning in his cramped apartment, set a pot of water on the stove for tea, and begin writing.

His work, like that of all authors, had to pass regime censors. One of his television series was an allegory about power, and made it to the screen by being set in 1950s Baghdad rather than in the later Baathist era. A television movie sang the praises of the Iraqi army, and another script used Julius Caesar rather than Hussein to describe the life of a dictator. These innocuous and popular shows made Kadhim one of the best-known theatrical writers in Iraq.

But the work dearest to his heart he stuffed into drawers. Much of it drew together figures from East and West, a motif viewed with suspicion by the regime. In one play he put on trial several notorious figures, including Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden, who in the name of purifying humanity commit heinous acts. In another, an Iraqi woman who murdered her husband shares a prison cell with two heroines of Greek tragedy, Electra and Antigone, and the three discuss the men who led to their ruin.

Occasionally a foreign director visiting Iraq would see a draft and take it out of the country to produce. But Kadhim was careful not to seek attention from outsiders. In Hussein's Iraq, too much notice was dangerous. He had spent time in prison as a young man, and his brother was kidnapped by Hussein's secret police and never seen again. For Kadhim, who has a wife and two daughters, survival trumped art.

Now, with Hussein himself in prison, Kadhim, 64, no longer needs to smuggle his writing out of the country. In the last two years, he has written full-length plays that take on previously forbidden subjects, including the Iraq-Iran war and the repression of women in rural Arab society, as well as current events, such as the U.S.-led invasion and continued military presence.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 27, 2005 8:58 AM

You know that Adil Kadhim's giving thanks for the American take-over.

The nation's "best-known theatrical writer" living in a "cramped apartment" ?

Not in a capitalist system, baby.

Here in the West, even no-talent hacks like Harold Pinter can prosper.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 3:54 AM