- Middle East/North Africa
Distinguished storyteller, actor and comedian Ramadan Khater died Tuesday at the age of 48.
Active for three decades in the cultural sphere, Khater worked to revive the storytelling genre and pass on the narratives of the rural poor that he had learned by heart.
Born in Bani Mazer, Khater formed his first storytelling group at his village.
Theater director Hassan al-Greitly, founder of Al-Warsha troupe, discovered Khater in 1989 when he moved to Cairo. Khater participated in Al-Warsha performances until 2005.
But Khater also played a pivotal role in mentoring and training performers and storytellers across the Arab world. With his beloved character and warm smile, he captured the hearts of his colleagues and made a perfect tutor. In Jordan and Bahrain, he gave numerous workshops with Al-Balad Theater and the Arab Education Forum.
Many of the stories recounted by Khater are inspired by folk tales like “Al-Sira al-Hilaleya,” as well as stories from the countryside and everyday life. He was one of those “genuine storytellers” who believe that telling people’s stories is part of delivering their history and values to younger generations.
Lately, Khater worked with Egyptian director Khaled Youssef on his 2007 film “Heen Maysara” (Whenever Possible) and with independent director Ibrahim al-Batout on his 2009 film “Ain Shams.”
Khater could be considered an influential figure in the independent theater movement that started in Egypt in the late 1980s. Though marginalized from state-owned theaters, Khater worked to carve a space for alternative performances and to attract a larger audience. He toured Egyptian governorates to tell his stories to people alienated from the conventional media discourse.