al-`Ayni, Yusuf (1927–) By Al-Shamma, James
A playwright, actor, and director, Yusuf al-`Ayni was instrumental in the development of Iraqi theater from the 1950s through the 1970s. His three-decades-long career coincides with the advent and flourishing of a professional theater in Iraq, one primarily concerned with addressing political and social concerns. He emerged during a time of political turmoil under the British-supported monarchy and his tenure coincided with the establishment of the independent Iraqi state in 1958 and later the rise of the Baathists and Saddam Hussein. In the late 1960s, al-`Ayni initiated the movement within Iraq that combined classical Arabic forms with techniques from Western political theater, particularly those of Bertolt Brecht.