The Arabic Theatre working group, established in 2007, seeks to broaden our understanding of the hitherto relatively neglected theatre and performance traditions of the Arab and Islamic world. The title of the group is meant to indicate a general geographical and cultural area of investigation, not to be exclusive, and investigations of material from the many non-Arab and non-Muslim communities located within this area are welcomed by the group. Subjects can be drawn from all areas of theatre activity as well as from performance work that lies outside the traditional European concept of theatre. Methological approaches from the fields of cultural and postcolonial studes will doubtless be represented in the work of the group, but all approaches that will provide a better understanding of this large field of studies are welcome.
Discussion of various future projects for the Working Group are continuing by email until the next major meeting of the group at the FIRT conference in Munich. Among the projects being explored are the development of ongoing bibliographies of translations and other teaching, performance and research materials, including, of course, videos and recordings; the development of a translation project; exploration of joint sessions in the future with other working groups; development of a consortium of scholars teaching academic courses in the material covered by the working group; and the eventual linkage of such projects and others through the internet. Various subcommittees of the working group are being formed to explore each of these proposals.
The major publication project developed within the group during the past year was a special issue (Fall, 2008) of the journal Ecumenica entitled 'Performing Islam', edited by Hazem Azmy and Marvin Carlson. Working Group members Khalid Amine and Marvin Carlson also collaborated on an essay 'Al-halqa in Arabic Theatre: An Emerging Site of Hybridity', which appeared in Theatre Journal 60:1 (2007).
Next meeting: TBC.
Last meeting: Munich 2010. Lisbon 2009. In 2008, under the auspices of Professor Sameh Mahran, then the President of the National Centre for Theatre, Ministry of Culture in Egypt, members of the Arabic Theatre Working Group also met at the Supreme Council of Culture, Opera House Grounds, Egypt.