Performing the Divided Self

The Refugee Theatre of Ahmad Meree


  • Ric Knowles Professor, English and Theatre, University of Guelph


Ahmad Meree is unique among Canadian playwrights. Bringing influences from the Theatre of the Absurd and the existentialist philosophy that undergirded much of that post-World War II theatrical moment in Europe to bear on his own position as a refugee of the Syrian war, Meree has in his first three plays in Canada introduced a kind of neo-existentialist exilic, or refugee theatre that is grounded, unlike the work of most of the existentialists, in his own experience and in the realities of contemporary global politics and life in Canada. This essay will contextualize his work with an account of his own refugee experience, on which all of his plays to date are based, and try to locate the plays within the realms of existentialist philosophy and of Yana Meerzon’s articulations of “exilic theatre” in the land now called Canada.