Death of Antoine Multaka, one of the pioneers of Lebanese theater culture

Playwright Antoine Multaka, one of the legends of the Lebanese stage, died on Wednesday at the age of 91. He is known for adapting or translating many major international works along with his wife. For his role in the television series “Ten Young Slaves” in the mid-seventies of the twentieth century.

Gilbert Multaka told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday evening that his father Antoine “died in his sleep at his home this afternoon”.

“He was not suffering from any health problem, but as he has reached the age of 91, his health deteriorated recently due to his advanced age, and he had an infection some time ago,” he explained.

Writer and actor Jean Cassis, former president of the Theater, Cinema, Radio and Television Actors Syndicate, said Antoine Multaka and his wife Latifah “have formed a unique couple in Lebanese theater since the late 1950s. Movement is a unique speed and vitality.”

The couple's careers were linked, their collaborative work continued, and they played important organizational roles in the Lebanese theater.

“Antoine and Latifah's theater beginnings were with Mounir Abu Tebs, who brought the pioneers of modern theater from France to Lebanon,” Kassis recalls, when he co-founded the Modern Acting Company in 1960.

But according to Kassis, the couple “later resigned to establish the Lebanese Theater Circle”. In 1967, according to Cassis, the experimental dramatist emerged from this episode, “attracting many theater buffs and acting students, and his group presented many works.”

The couple took part in launching the first theater festival in Lebanon in the northern city of Rachana.

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Antoine Multaka, born June 9, 1933, has been the head of the Department of Acting at the Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Lebanon since its founding in 1965. He held this position until his retirement in 1996 and was one of the best Lebanese playwrights. He taught there.

Actress Julia Kasser said, “I was lucky to have him as my teacher because he was firm and at the same time a foster father to everyone.”

As for Kassis, a graduate program overseen by Multaka, he pointed out that the deceased was “a lover of Greek theater and Shakespeare's plays, and his dream was to elevate Lebanese theater to the level of international theater.” He was interested in preserving the sanctity and integrity of the drama.

Shakespeare's “Macbeth” and “Richard III”, Sophocles' “Oedipus Rex” and “Antigone”, and Jean-Paul's “The Flies” are among the most important plays adapted, translated, directed or starred in by Antoine and Latifah Multaqah. Sartre, and “Blood Marriage” by García Lorca, “Misunderstanding” and “Caligula” by Albert Camus.

In 1980, they founded the “Maroon Naqash Theater” named after the pioneer of Arab theater and prepared for various experiments in the theater space.

“It was the first open-air theater in Lebanon, and with that they broke the equation of the fourth wall established by the classical theater,” Kassis explained.

He became famous on television in 1974 for the series “Ten Young Slaves” on Lebanon and Levant TV, based on Agatha Christie's story, in which he played the role of Judge Wargrave, and his wife Latifah Eitel. .

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The couple have two sons, Gilbert and composer and pianist Jad, and a daughter, Jihan.

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