Leo Africanus Discovers Comedy: Sixteenth Century Theatre Across the Mediterranean Divide
Paper by Natalie Zemon Davis
Given at the American Philosophical Society Annual Meeting on April 27, 2017
This afternoon I want to describe through the persons of the North African Muslim Hassan Al Rosen and the Italian Jew, Jacob Mantino, an encounter between two traditions of theatre and poetry in the early 16th century. The story caught my attention a few years ago when the Stratford Festival commissioned the playwright Wajdi Mouawad to write a play linked to my recently published Trickster Travels. The hero of that book was a man Europeans called Leo Africanus – a Moroccan diplomat who spent several years of his life in Italy in the 1520’s as a seeming Christian before returning to North Africa and Islam in 1527.
Top Image: Portrait of a Humanist, c. 1520. The identity of the sitter is unknown but suggested to possibly be Leo Africanus