The Springs of theatre: Art in time of revolutions
Revolts, revolutions and performance in the Middle East in the 21th century
The first two international days of studies of this cycle of research focused on the political, social and cultural changes in the countries of the Middle East and their consequences on the theatrical scene (November 2018) and on the issues of censorship (May 2019).
Following these two moments of reflexion and exchanges, this third third day aims to focus on the link between performing arts and the “revolutionary” events of the Arab Springs in 2011. In a context of a general questioning of the political structures that have been controlling the eastern societies for decades, the civil society has claimed its opposition on a large scale. In this context of uprising, many theatrical projects and performances appeared, especially when the institutions and their tools of control have been suspended. At the same time, traditional medias such as television, radio and written press challenged the dramatic form and the way it can talk about the political events. In this context, the frontier between art and political engagement, between artists (professionals and amateurs) and activists has often been blurred.
Then, when confronted to an actuality as an injunction to write, the question of the representation of the events in the plays and on stage tackles political and aesthetical issues. Firstly, in the frame of a political theatre of the actuality, that tends to defines itself in the context of its own creation, a concurrence appears between representation (reflexive, fictional) and action (political and aesthetic performativity). The artists have been questioning their own role and their legitimacy, and tried to invent and propose new forms: chronicle, epic theatre, documentary theatre, agit-prop, interactive theatre, performances in public spaces. In this perspective, we’ll have to distinguish a theatre in the margin of the events, that testifies of what is happening and represents the on-going changes, and a theatre that would directly participate in the events. This second sort of theatre could be a place when practitioners and spectators, as they are all citizens of a country under construction, would experience new political and social relations. Is theatre to be considered as an action or as a reaction to the political actuality? The context of these revolutionary movements thus enable us to think about the issue of what we call “political theatre”, and, maybe, try to find new definitions in specific situations.
Finally, we have to focus on the representation of the revolutionary movement on stage, and as a new theme that feed individual and collective imaginary during the event and in its aftermath, until today. The memory of the event, its critic or the process of historicization seem to be important topics.
While we are approaching to the anniversary of the ten years of the “Arab Springs”, our studies will focus on the three main countries where these uprisings erupted: Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, but the communications about performing arts in Bahrein, Yemen and Libya are also welcomed. Moreover, in the context of the current events in Algeria and Sudan, communications about the performing arts today in these countries would permit us to broaden our perspectives of research in time and space.
The proposals of interventions will lean on studies of cases, and the authors will pay attention to the link between the creation and its background, focusing at the same time on political and aesthetical stakes. The following themes could be treated:
- The position of the artists on the political and social stages: observers and/or activists?
- The competition between theatrical representation and performativity of political action
- The renewing and transformations of the creation thanks to the suspension of the institutions and control.
- Forms, settings and dramaturgies in times of Revolution
- New narratives and new themes in the dramaturgies
- Definitions of a “political theatre” in context
This day of studies will take place in the Théâtre de l’Odéon, where the performance Les Mille et une nuits(One thousand and one nights) is programmed. The participants will be invited to attend the performance at the end of this day of work.
The proposals (titles, summary in French or English, 2 000 signs) and a short biography should be sent by mail before September 15th 2019, to :
After the selection, the candidates will receive the answer by September 20th 2019.