Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone, du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


New perspectives on the contemporary Arabic drama: forms of social commitment and artistic experimentation (381) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia/SeSaMO (Italy)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Rosella Dorigo

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: The aim of the panel is to examine some of the most prominent features of contemporary Arabic theatre in different areas of the Arab world, in order to contribute to a better understanding of the socio-cultural and artistic dimensions of the current dramatic art. The analysis of the panel will centre on the forms of artistic experimentation both at the level of ‘text’ and that of ‘performance’, in order to highlight what are the most relevant differences and similarities among the artistic experiences of the several authors or companies that will be considered. The formal experimentation of the dramatists will therefore be analysed with the aim of understanding also the social and political function carried out by drama in the Arab world today, shedding light on the relationship between drama and social commitment.

Chair: Rosella Dorigo (Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia)

Discussant: Lorenzo Casini (Università di Messina)

Paper presenter: Agnese Boscarol (Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia), “Theatre as a tool for recovering collective memory. An assessment of the artistic production of the Lebanese playwright Roger Assaf”
Actor, play writer and director, Roger Assaf since 1961 devoted his efforts in the search for and formulation of a personal theatrical expression. His method is based on a meticulous collection and keen investigation of oral testimonies related to the several wars that wrecked Lebanon during the 19th century as well as the employ of the narrative techniques of the traditional Arabic chanteur ‘‘Hakawàtì’’. My speech will try to investigate how he translates into his plays social and historical transformations dealing with two entangled levels. The first one is related to the contents, the poetical language and the play’s structure; the second one is associated with his method, his relationship with audience and the theatrical as well as the urban space. For this purpose three pieces played at intervals of about ten years will be examined: Ayy’m al-Khiyàm (1983), Mudhakkiràt Ayyùb (1993) and Bawwàbat Fàtima (2006).The first level clearly reveals the main intention that leads his action: the recovery and the preservation of the Lebanese collective memory with specific reference to the different wars witnessed.

Paper presenter: Maria Rosaria Conte (Università del Salento), “Social commitment, tradition and modernity in the Tunisian post-colonial theatre”.
After having been for decades deeply influenced, both in its quality and themes, by important social and political factors like the economic dependence from the colonial authorities, the censorship, the lack of professional figures, especially authors and actresses, and finally the lack of spaces, the Tunisian drama has found its way in the period between the two World Wars and the Independence, which finally came in 1956. Yet its major critics agree in considering the Tunisian post-colonial experiences of the sixties and the seventies poor and immature. In fact, it wasn’t the so-long waited freedom to improve their quality: on the contrary, the presence of the French colonial power for such a long period had fed a deep will of revenge in Tunisian personalities and companies, which eventually turned into the search of new more personal and typical forms of expressions. As a consequence, the social and political commitment was interwoven with a certain anxiety of preservation of the very genuine values which connected Tunisia to its Arabic roots, but in the meantime it was counterbalanced by a natural tendency towards the latest echoes of modernity coming from Europe and Egypt, always Tunis’s primary source of inspiration before and after the Independence. The idea of ‘social commitment’ in Tunisian drama concerns both the necessity of discussing with the audience some social themes imposed by the clash with the western values - the role of the woman, the generational gap with regards to religion and traditions -, but in meantime, the need to criticize the colonial political means through possible ‘veiled’ forms like the dramatic play.My paper will aim at exploring the way all these factors had coexisted in the Tunisian drama since its birth and paved the way to its most recent genres.

Paper presenter: Monica Ruocco (Università di Palermo), “The new Palestinian theatre between presence and representation”
Palestinian theatre has always been resolute to challenge a distressing social and political context, testing at the same time the boundaries of artistic expression. These works has constantly expressed a significant creation process behind them, performing for the stage a new reality or describing the reality we already know. It is thus no surprise that Palestinian theatre has presented in the last few years many companies and playwrights which drew the attention of the international theatrical scene. This paper will focus on Ala Hlehel (‘Al’ ‘ulay’il), born in Jesh, Galilee in 1974, whose plays well represents a new trend in Palestinian theatre. In his plays, Ala Hlehel combines poetic language and lyrical rhythm with political commitment and a characteristically sharp, satirical tone. He takes an ordinary situation and lays bare its varying layers of pain, futility, absurdity, pomposity and injustice.

Paper presenter: Sara Solari (Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia), “The Syrian Independent Theatre.The experience of al-Bàb and al-Kharìf theatre companies”
The object of my analysis is the Syrian Indipendent Theatre, Masrah Mustaqill, an important sector of contemporary theatre in Syria. The term ‘Indipendent Theatre’ was conied by one of their own members and aimed at diversifying and distinguishing this new theatre from production and shows put on by the National Theatre, Masrah Qawm’, which is part of Arts Sector and is funded by local political institutions. Remarkably the Indipendent Theatre is entirely self-managed by the cast members and theatre staff. In this review I will also compare it to the Syrian Experimental Theatre, Masrah Ta’r’b’.I'll focus my attention on the plays performed by two important theatre companies al-B’b and al-Khar’f

Paper presenter: Albar Rosa Suriano (Università di Firenze), “The Egyptian ''Third Way'': the rise of the Independent Theatre in Egypt and the recovery of a repressed/suppressed memory”.
This contribute concerns the independent theatre in Egypt, a variegated movement that has been defined as ‘the Egyptian third way’ - an alternative to both the governmental and the commercial theatre - and that since its foundation in 1990 has represented one of the most interesting phenomena within the Egyptian dramatic scene. My study is focused on the particular attention that the independent dramatists and directors have dedicated to the process of construction of the Egyptian collective memory by the official political discourse and the media. In this respect, the work of many independent troupes can be interpreted as an effort to produce a counter-discourse that recovers aspects of the Egyptian collective history and identity that are often neglected or manipulated by the official discourse.