The Arab British Centre is pleased to announce that the Award for Culture 2013 has been presented to the London-based, Prague-born, Iraqi playwright whose plays address issues in the Arab world.
The panel of judges, chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, chose Hassan Abdulrazzak out of a shortlist of six nominees for his cultural impact on the general British public’s understanding of the Arab world. The judges felt that through his work, most recently with his second full-length play The Prophet, Abdulrazzak has risen to the occasion at a time where the Middle East is highlighted as a volatile and inaccessible place.
Abdulrazzak has written three successful full length plays and six short plays and he is currently working on three screenplays and a further full-length play, A Fire Blazing Brightly.
Describing his passion for writing plays, Abdulrazzak explained that, ‘theatre has the power to radically challenge your assumptions regarding a people or a culture and it can do so within the span of two or three hours’. He then went on to discuss his emerging career, ‘one of the main motivations behind becoming a playwright, other than to tell good stories, was to present aspects of Arab culture as I know it which I felt were absent from mainstream depictions in Britain and elsewhere’.
Through his writing, Abdulrazzak achieves the aspirations of which The Arab British Centre, that is, to nurture and promote awareness and enthusiasm for the rich cultures and traditions of the Arab world. Abdulrazzak described the impact of his first full-length play Baghdad Wedding (2007, Soho Theatre), ‘I wanted to show how the impact of Iraq’s multiple wars and years of sanctions have had on Iraq’s middle class, many of whom fled the country. For many English members of the audience the play was revelatory because it shed light on a segment of Iraqis that they rarely, if ever, saw on the nightly news.’
The Arab British Centre is thrilled with the winner and the overall shortlist chosen by this year’s panel of judges. All showed huge amounts of dedication to enthral the general British public’s understanding of the Arab world.