The Arabic Theatre Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research invites proposals for contributions to its forthcoming meeting at the IFTR annual conference in Hyderabad, India in July 2015. We are particularly interested in contributions that address the conference theme of ‘Theatre and Democracy’, a theme naturally congenial to the group's scope of interest. The last three years or so have seen the ATWG addressing many of the same concerns in the context of analyzing the response of Arab theatre and performance practices to the so-called "Arab Spring". Given the fast morphing realities in many parts of the Arab region, the topic remains far from being exhausted; if anything, many of the key terms that appear to have once defined it are now increasingly open to ongoing scrutiny and rethinking.
With all this in mind, the proposals we encourage for our Hyderabad meeting include, but are not limited to: discussions of performances and plays (either originally in Arabic or in translation) inspired by or commenting upon current political events in the Arab World; the impact of current and recent changes upon particular artists, groups, theatres, or theatre cultures; and the role of performance itself in ongoing political events. We are particularly eager to receive submissions that seek to rethink the key terms of the discussion and maintain an interdisciplinary dialogue with cultural, literary, translation, visual, or film studies. We welcome papers that demonstrate productive connections with performance theory, theatre historiography, or the practical applications of dramaturgy. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the interrelated sub-themes and provocations via which we hope to respond to the conference theme; we remain open to any submissions that address the same theme differently:
- Theatre and performance practices and the "democratising" sensibilities of the "Arab Spring".
- The representational challenges of Arab theatre and performance scholarship in the age of mass-mediated “knowledge dissemination”.
- Arabo-Islamic theatre and performance and the negotiation of local and international forms of "knowledgeable ignorance".
- The interface between power structures within Arab theatre and performance and those in their respective larger cultures.
- Competing definitions of democracy in post-uprisings Arab theatre and performance.
- Democracy and its discontents in diasporic Arabo-Islamic theatre and performance.
- Representing minoritised communities in post-uprisings Arab theatre and performance.
- The performative politics of the Arabo-Islamic public sphere.
- Arab Traditional performance practices and the question of Identity VS Demorcracy.
- Arab Theatre and performance and the challenges of “democratizing” digital technologies.
- Theatre translation and dramaturgical localisation as political and cultural intervention practices.
- Historicising the question of democracy on modern and contemporary Arab stages.
- Gendering Arabo-Islamic performance practices and discourses in the era of vengeful patriarchal backlashes.
In addition to formal abstract proposals, the ATWG convenors also welcome indications of interest from any new members who wish to take part in the group's discussion but do not wish to submit a paper. Graduate students and early-career researchers are particularly welcome, as well as practice-based researchers and reflexive practitioners. We invite all members to propose ideas as to how the ATWG may best disseminate its work in innovative ways and beyond the group’s meetings.
As one recent example in December 2014, and based on proposals made at the Warwick meeting, the Arabic Theatre Working Group, in cooperation with the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, launched the online journal, Arab Stages, which contains peer-reviewed essays as well as plays, book and performance reviews, and announcements. The journal is available at:<arabstages.org>.
Should enough submissions around the theme of the IFTR 2015 be gathered, the ATWG may consider proposing to the organizers a special ATWG panel within the general conference. Even more, the convenors hope that some select submissions for this year, in addition to some of the papers presented within our 2014 meeting in the UK, can serve as the basis for a projected peer-reviewed book of articles on the question of democracy in contemporary Arab theatre and performance.
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