Syrian Playwright Riad Ismat, 73

Wendy Pearlman, who also teaches at Northwestern, said in the online memorial:
He also wrote short stories and scripts for television serials, and one book in English:   Artists, Writers and the Arab Spring. Ismat went on to write more than 35 theatre texts and critical works, including plays such as   A Game of Love and Revolution   and Naguib Mahfouz: Beyond Realism.
He was 73: Syrian theatre artist Riad Ismat died earlier this month after contracting COVID-19 in Chicago, where he was part of Northwestern’s “Scholars at Risk” program.
Riad had a one-of-a-kind combination of gifts: the creativity of an artist, the curiosity of an intellectual, the wisdom of a teacher, the cosmopolitanism of a citizen of the world, and the poise of a proud Syrian who never lost hope or sense of purpose, in spite of it all.
He began his theatre career in the early 1970s, directing a student production of Sophocles’ “Antigone” in 1972 and staging a version of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” in 1973 that, according to Margaret Litvin’s   Hamlet’s Arab Journey,   helped spark Mamdouh Adwan’s satirical version.
Syrian Playwright Riad Ismat, 73
According to a memorial news release from Northwestern,   Riad came to the university in 2013 via the Scholars at Risk Network, and he taught courses in the departments of Theatre, Performance Studies, and Radio/Television/Film.
Ismat was a playwright, director, and theatre critic, in addition to being an instructor, a diplomat, and Syria’s Minister of Culture (2010-12) before he fled first to Paris, then the United States.
 
According to retired diplomat Alberto Miguel Fernandez, writing on Twitter, Ismat was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus at the end of April.
He was remembered online by Syrian-American actors Kosai Khauli and   Jay Abdo, fellow diplomats, and many of his colleagues and students at Northwestern.
His play   Mihbaj   was translated to English by   Sami Ismat & Karim Shah; according to Northwestern’s Danny Postel, who attended a staged reading, the play was “a sobering reckoning with the vexing fate of the Syrian uprising told through the divergent trajectories of three brothers.”