Hazem Azmy, 1967-2018

01 October, 2018 by Chris Collins | 0 comments

Hazem Azmy, 1967-2018

In remembrance of Hazem Azmy

IFTR’s Executive Committee announces with sadness the death of longtime federation member, Hazem Azmy, who unexpectedly passed away during the July 2018 World Congress in Belgrade.  Past President Janelle Reinelt has provided the following personal remembrance:


Shortly after I moved to the University of Warwick in 2006, Hazem Azmy contacted me about pursuing doctoral studies and became my first PhD student at Warwick. Hazem was already a theatre critic and teacher: he had a very clear idea about the dissertation he wished to write. He was an engaging and exhausting student—he always found plenty of energy to pursue any idea as long as was necessary, and his dialogic style was resolutely dialectical. He reminded me of the old 1960s dictum, ‘question authority’, and question he did. We made a friendship as well as a professional relation based on respect and struggle in equal parts.


Hazem knew that I had been President of IFTR (2003-2006), and he embraced my commitment to the organisation as his own. Of course, he brought forward his own critique of the organization, and lobbied strongly for student representation to the Executive Committee. He was a persuasive and eloquent advocate, and the next President, Brian Singleton, was committed to this change. Because it required a constitutional amendment which could only be done every four years, Hazem was co-opted to the executive committee in 2008 as the first student to serve (and the constitution was subsequently amended in 2010). In the meantime, Hazem also had the idea of creating a new working group for the Federation on Arabic Theatre. He and his friend and mentor Professor Marvin Carlson sought approval for the Arabic Theatre Working Group in 2007, and it has been an active and vital part of the Federation ever since.


Before completing his dissertation in 2012, Hazem had already published several significant works: He co-edited, with Marvin Carlson, a special journal issue titled ‘Performing Islam/Muslim Realities’ (Ecumenica 1.2, December 2008). He co-authored an essay for Theatre Research International in 2010, and had also written a substantial essay on Egyptian theatre for The Cambridge Companion to Theatre History, edited by David Wiles and Christine Dymkowski (2012). Hazem was currently working on a book manuscript, a revised version of his dissertation, tentatively entitled Staging Egypt on the Global Stage: Egyptian Performance Realities from 9/11 to the Arab Spring.


In recent years, since Hazem and I both left Warwick—he to return to Egypt and me to retire to California—we had seen less of each other, which I now of course regret. I remember one of the best times I spent with him was just after he finished his dissertation when I took him to lunch to celebrate in London. We went to a well-known theatre restaurant, Joe Allen’s, where my academic mentor Ruby Cohn had first taken me. We laughed about this and I pointed out there was also a branch that was a New York theatre haunt. I told Hazem he had written an excellent dissertation and that I was proud of him. I only wish he could have lived a long full life of further accomplishments. I will miss him very much. May he rest in peace.


Hazem Azmy 1967-2018. He is survived by a brother and a sister, Tamer and Noha M. Azmy El- Tonsy, and his mother.


Janelle Reinelt

August 2018

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