Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre, Kalila Wa Dimna (The Mirror for Princes)

Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre, Kalila Wa Dimna (The Mirror for Princes)

The award-winning Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre , last seen in London in 2004 with the politically explosive Al-Hamlet Summit , brings its latest work to bite 06 . A powerful and disturbing re-telling of one of the masterpieces of Eastern culture, Kalila Wa Dimna is a story for contemporary times. These allegorical animal fables, intended as a book of counsel for kings, literally a ‘mirror for princes’, retain immense significance across all levels of society in the Middle East to this day.

Originating in India, the stories travelled to Persia before reaching the Arab world where the pen of Ibn Al-Muqaffa, court scribe, wit and radical reformer, turned them into political dynamite. Kalila Wa Dimna is part Shakespearean history, part modern political fable, and explores the creation of these tales amidst the turmoil that unfolds around the author himself, as Al-Muqaffa battles for reform in the midst of fervent revolutionaries, heretic poets, religious propagandists, and a ruler who names himself none other than ‘God’s shadow on earth’.

Written and directed by Sulayman Al-Bassam , designed by Julia Bardsley and performed in English with live musical accompaniment composed by Lewis Gibson, Kalila Wa Dimna is a timely exploration of the politics of Empire and the narratives of power . By reflecting the incendiary nature of the current political climate it exposes a surprising number of parallels between a distant moment of Islamic history and the West today.

The Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre is based in Kuwait and its plays, all written and directed by Al-Bassam, have been performed throughout the UK as well as at international festivals across Europe, South East Asia and the Arab world. The Barbican run is the first European performance of Kalila Wa Dimna, which premiered in March 2006 at the Tokyo International Arts Festival. Future work includes an RSC commission to create an adaptation of Richard III for the Complete Works Festival , a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s portrait of evil, renamed Baghdad Richard .

No performance Sunday 14 & 21 May

Tickets: £15

Running time: 140 minutes/inc interval


Date and time: Saturday 20 May 2006, 7.15pm


Journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in conversation with Sulayman Al-Bassam.
Date: Friday 12 May 2006
Tickets: Free to same day ticket holders


BITE Multi-Buy save 20% when buying tickets for three or more performances in the BITE season in the same transaction.

Barbican Arts Partners (BAP): 25% off ticket price.

Barbican Card (The Pit): 20% off ticket price.
Groups of 10 or more: 20% off ticket price.

Students: 50% off ticket price on Wednesday evenings. Advance booking necessary. Proof of eligibility must be shown. Families: 50% off ticket price for up to 3 under 16s with each full paying adult.

Members of the Barbican Access Membership Scheme: 50% off ticket price. Companion (if required) also receives 50% off ticket price.
Schools (The Pit): £8

All discounts are subject to availability and cannot be combined to make greater saving.

Region: All
Start Date: 10/05/2006
End Date: 27/05/2006
Start Time: 7.15 pm
Venue: The Pit, Barbican
Press Tickets: Available
Sponsorship: Not Available
Press Tickets:
Name: Angela Dias
Phone: 020 7382 7168