Mohammed Ben Abdallah

Mohammed Ben Abdallah is a playwright and former politician from Accra, Ghana. He holds an MFA from University of Georgia and a PhD from University of Texas, Austin. While a member of the revolutionary PNDC government in the 1980s and 1990s, he established the National Commission on Culture and built of the National Theatre of Ghana with its resident companies the National Theatre Company, National Dance Company, and National Symphony Orchestra.

Since the 1970s, Abdallah’s work as a playwright has pushed the creative boundaries of theatre, linking Western and African dramatic traditions by developing a theatrical style he has termed Abibigro (African Play), meaning Total African Theatre. His plays developed in this style emerge from collaborative workshops involving musicians, actors, and dancers that encourage the inclusion of various eclectic styles into the changing script. He has aimed to blend multiple African and diasporic styles of music, dance, storytelling, comedy, dramatization, and, experimentation. His work particularly focuses on the role of the storyteller as a figure of the avant-garde rather than one relegated to tradition. His first play The Slaves brought him international attention in portraying the collective terror and personal moral tensions amongst a group of captured prisoners held in a slave dungeon on the west coast of Africa. His subsequent plays including The Trial of Malam Ilya, Fall of Kumbi, Verdict of the Cobra, Land of a Million Magicians, and Witch of Mopti established him as a major voice in theatre and developed his style of Abibigro theatre in his writing and staging . His most recent major production Song of the Pharaoh premiered at the National Theatre of Ghana in 2013 to critical acclaim.