Born on 14 June 1934, El-Sharkawy was one of the leading theatre directors and academics of his generation.
Though he was not initially linked to theatre, as he obtained his Bachelor of Science from Cairo University in 1954 and a Special Diploma in Education and Psychology from Ain Shams University in 1955, he soon shifted to studying theatre by enrolling at the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts, from which he graduated with honours in 1958.
Later on, he taught in the Acting and Directing Department of the institute and then proceeded to serve as the dean in the late 1970s.
His directorial debut was in the play ‘A Widow and Three Daughters’ in 1965, which was followed by decades of directing over 50 other works for theatre; a passion that he continued to pursue until the late years of his life.
El-Sharkawy’s other renowned plays include those staged in state theatres as well as for commercial theatre, with plays being performed for many seasons in a row.
His works include ‘Ateya the Terrorist’, ‘West Side Story’, ‘El-Baghbaghan’ (1984), ‘Tamr Henna’ (1974), ‘The School of Misfits’ (1973) — with the latter play being among the best-known performances of its time, starring Adel Imam, Said Saleh, Younes Shalaby, Ahmed Zaki, Soheir El-Bably, among others.
El-Sharkawy also enjoyed acting and appeared in numerous radio and television series as well as films, with the most recent ones being ‘God Speaker’ by Ahmed Hassan (2016), ‘Growing Younger’ by Hamdi El-Ibrashi (2006), ‘At the Gate of Egypt (2006), among 80 other works.
He also wrote a number of books on Egyptian theatre and cinema.
He received the State Appreciation Award in 1994 for his contribution to the Egyptian cultural scene.