Murdoch University student Afeif Ismail has been nominated for an Australian Writers’ Guild award for his children’s play, The African Magician.
Mr Ismail, who is in his first year of a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing and Theatre and Drama, is already a published poet, playwright, storyteller and human rights activist.
The African Magician is based on another of Mr Ismail’s plays, The Son of the Sun, written in Arabic and transcreated into English by Afeif and his co-transcreator Vivienne Glance. The play was commissioned by Barking Gecko Theatre Company and performed last year at the Subiaco Arts Centre.
“It’s a play for young people and all the young at heart. I wrote it in African theatre style; the atmosphere of African theatre is like a carnival, with music, storytelling, songs and dancing. Lots of things happen quickly and this gives the story a wide scope, covering many topics. It is a celebration of life,” Mr Ismail said.
The play follows two young boys and a girl each describing life in their village in Ismail’s native Sudan. The main story is about a magician who appears in the village at sunrise and sunset with a female monkey by his side, an important ritual to village people who worship the sun. The children spend their days secretly following the magician because of a disbelief in his magical powers.
Mr Ismail attributes his love of storytelling to his close relationship with his grandmother.
“My wealth is my grandmother’s precious tales. The pulse of her stories still beats in my mind and memory. One of the great lessons she taught me was how to listen, how to observe and to recreate. Everything is there around us; it’s how to capture it and make it useful to people’s lives through magical realism that is important.”
The AWGIE Awards are judged by writers and awarded to Australian scriptwriters. The 44th Annual AWGIE Awards will be held on Friday 23 September 2011 at Doltone House, Darling Island, Sydney.
Editor’s note: Transcreation goes beyond translation; it attempts to maintain the meaning of an original work by paying close attention to the cultural and artistic nuances of in the writing and presenting it in a form of spoken English that is accessible to a contemporary audience.