Let's see if any living author could do this. After decades of having work by Kafka hidden in Israeli vaults, they are destined to come to light. Now, an adaptation of one of Kafka's stories - The Penal Colony - is being performed in Cairo. Sure, maybe it's coincidence, but I think Kafka stirs up the pot from the grave.
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Kafka in Cairo: Re-staging ‘The Penal Colony’
by Naira Antoun
What is one of Egypt’s first independent theater troupes, El-Warsha, doing putting on a performance of a play written by a European in 1914? In restaging Franz Kafka’s “The Penal Colony,”is El-Warsha trying to resist the pressures to produce art that speaks directly to the revolution?
Perhaps, in part.
Hassan al-Geretly director of the troupe and of this production says he had always wanted to revive the play, one that they first put on in 1989, adapted by filmmaker Ahmed Qassim. With an apprenticeship project coming to an end, Geretly now felt that he had a suitable cast.
“But while there was no conscious decision to refer to the times in which we find ourselves, it is not by chance that certain things nag at you, throb almost,” he says.
The story takes place as a visitor arrives at an unnamed penal colony. He is invited by the officer to observe an execution using a complex machine that performs “exquisite torture.” The condemned is strapped into the machine facedown and the law that he has broken is inscribed into his skin with a complex system of needles for 12 hours. Conceived by the old commandant, the machine is designed so that he does not lose consciousness until six hours have elapsed. In the past, thousands would turn out to witness the execution, but now under the new commandant, the officer remains the machine’s sole proponent.