Palestine, as an Ottoman province, was distanced from the main Arab cultural activities of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries; no literature bearing distinctive marks of Palestinian national identity was to be found before the First World War. After the war there was some national cultural revival, but it was mainly poetry, not fiction or theatre, that was traditionally perceived as a possible national weapon against external threats. The national revival however also covered folklore and religious culture, both of which combined some semitheatrical dimensions—the shadow theatre (khayāl al-ẓill), the storytellers (ḥakawātī; shāעir), and the peep show, that is, "Box of Wonders" or "Magic Box" (ṣundūq al-dunyā or ṣundūq al-עajab); the religious festivals, such as the traditional Prophet's birthday (mawlid) or the birthdays of saints (mawālid), the nighttime shows presented during the fast of Ramadan; and the popular peasant culture, such as the dabka dances. Modern theatrical and dramatic activities—most of them marked by European influence, whether by way of translations or adaptations—were very limited; because many of the plays were intended for staging in schools, most of them were flavored with didactic aims. Visiting troupes from Egypt and Lebanon created some public demand for theatrical activities, and in both the 1930s and the 1940s there were active Palestinian devotees of theatre, such as the brothers al-Jawzī.