KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Theatre critics usually shun stereotypes as empty and simply meant to force spectators’ laughter.
But Fadil Saeed had broken this norm, giving real and lasting drama that occupied the stages for decades and which was always welcome wherever it set foot around the country.
For the sweet memories Fadil Saeed left in the hearts of millions of Sudanese ordinary people, and in recognition of the legacy he left with the drama nd theatre professionals, the second Convocation of the Sudanese National Theatre Festival, 21-27 December, was held in memory of his name.
Up to now, fifteen years after Fadil’s departure, spectators follow his works on You Tube and long to see his works back on stage.
These spectators will hopefully see their wish come true because his fellow comedian Rasheed Ahmed Eisa is now back from his long stay in the Gulf Region and has said preparing to revive these works in due time.
Unlike other stereotypical actors who tend to portray a single character on the stages, the late Fadil had used to appear in several characters: once the naughty elderly woman Bit Guddaim, the spoiled imbecile Alajab Ummu or the troublesome elderly man Haj Kartoub.
It is Fadil’s vocal manner and the uneven movement of his limbs that made the difference. Stereotype actors usually either depend on speech or body movement to win the attention of the spectators, but Fadil had combined and mastered both.
This elderly woman with a slippery tongue who is always critical of the people around her, always using caustic language, nobody would tolerate, the young generations in particular.
It is the way this bitter woman is dressed, her single front tooth, her thick spectacles and her lousy language that endeared Actor Fadil to the public.
Literally, this name means the young man who is spoiled by excess mother love, who moves around doing nothing good for himself, his mother and his society, but still always pardoned and adored by his ignorant mother no matter the embarrassment he brings to her.
This is a type of an elderly man who, like the elderly female character Bit Guddaim, is also always trouble shooting despite his old age and his bent back, from old age.
These three caricature personalities really exist in the society no question. But it is Fadil’s mastery that gives them depth.
However, these three stereotypes do not go about without a serious message. Fadil used to employ them to criticize irregular social behavior, lazy and lax office workers and merciless, greedy persons in the society.
Fadil Saeed had spent his early years in the Ghddar district of the then Sudan’s Northern province. His father, Saeed, did not speak but Nubian language, while his mother, Fatima, spoke Arabic very well.
Then he spent some of his formative years with his grandmother (his mother’s mother) who was well conversant in the Arabic dialect spoken in Omdurman City here.
This cultural diversity is thought to have furnished Fadil with a sharp intellect and a rich social knowledge.
His Early beginnings
As a teenager, Fadil joined the boy scouts society sponsored by religious leader Alimam Abdel Rahman Almahdi, a benevolent figure who played a big role in the politics and economy of Sudan’s pre and post independence history.
As a boy scout Fadil dramatized the boy scouts regulations on the stage for what came to be his first experience as an actor.
At the elementary school he came across his arithmetic teacher cum dramatist Khalid Abualroos who resisted his plea to become an actor at that young age. Said Abulroos to his pupil: “Sonny, I don’t want you to act now. If you act now you will fail as a student. We need educated actors.”
At the secondary school the Egyptian teachers used to direct and present Egyptian plays. Here Fadil realized that drama is a big issue and a big responsibility.
Reading quite a lot in Egyptian drama, in particular plays performed by Actor Najeeb Alrayhani, Fadil decided to become an actor.
Finishing his secondary school education Fadil was enrolled at the Faculty of Arts, Khartoum University. But his love for drama prompted him to apply for the Higher Institute for Drama and Music in Cairo. Here his teachers advised him to drop that idea because there was no theatre in Sudan where he could practice what he may learn at the Institute.
Then he after a while tried his acting skills during one of the annual celebrations the Egyptian education mission used to organize at the end of the academic year. That experiment gave him confidence in his abilities, a matter that prompted him to launch ‘The Youth Comedians Troupe’ in 1955. This troupe then attracted actors Mahmoud Siraj, Osman Ahmed Hamad and others, including some female actors.
This troupe then travelled around the country, presenting comedies that attracted the public in the outlying regions whom Fadil said he addressed in a “communicative language.”
Fadil then found a lot of opportunities to present his art in the national radio and TV and also in several newly built theatres in Khartoum and the regional towns.
Fadil’s Most Famous Plays
Fadil had used to contend with sketches representing his three characters ‘Bit Guddaim, Alajab Ummu and Haj Karoub’ until 1967 when he presented his first four acts play Akl Aish (bread winning). This play was later on recorded and broadcast by the national TV of Egypt.
His other plays include Alkiskitta (the hat), Alfi Rasu Reesh (a reference to a timid thief), Alnas Fi Shnu (that speaks about persons with no interest in public affairs) and Moat Aldan (literally sheep death).
In all of these plays (and others) Fadil used to rotate between his stereotype characters: Bit Guddaim, Alajab Ummu and Haji Kartoub.
Fifty Years in the Theatre
Fadil died on Friday the 10th of June 2005 in the City of Port Sudan while on a visit to present his art in the Red Sea coastal City.
By his departure Fadil had completed fifty years of hard work on the theatre. His death in Port Sudan signals his love of Sudan’s hospitable regional cities and towns he had toured in earnest to satisfy calls by the lovers of his art to visit and show them his new production.
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