, August 18, 2010
Since the late 1980s, Samuel Beckett's plays have come to epitomize the conflict at the heart of dramatic performance in the age of print: do we understand dramatic theatre, as Hans-Thies Lehmann puts it, as the "declamation and illustration of written drama" (21), or as a means for using writing in the production of an independent artwork, one agency among many in framing the theatrical event? … read more
, August 11, 2010
In this article Erika Fischer-Lichte argues that, since the beginning of the twentieth century, in different parts of the world, modern theatre was invented by way of interweaving cultures in performance. Different examples from the early twentieth century and the 1990s show how theatre acted as a laboratory for testing and experiencing the potential of cultural diversity. An innovative performance aesthetics enabled the exploration of the emergence, stabilization, and destabilization of cultural identity, merging aesthetics with politics. read more
, July 1, 2010
The success of the German entry to the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo was matched by stunning sales and chart positions in many countries throughout Europe. Having more Google hits than any of the contestants before the contest itself was a sure sign that the appeal of a German contest song was to a much broader European youth culture than a national boundary could contain. The song was produced by Stefan Raab, himself a former contest entrant as a writer, and now the producer of the German national contest. In a wrap-up event two days after Lena triumphed in Oslo, she guested on Raab’s night-time talk show which was frequently interrupted by the host (Raab) and guest (Lena) breaking into a football chant of ’Deutsch-e-land’ to celebrate only the second win for Germany in the 55 year history of the contest, a Cold War-era televisual phenomenon purporting to be apolitical and aiming for the promotion of a collective European identity. Also, in a succession of post-contest interviews it was strongly suggested by Raab that Lena should defend (verteidigen) her title, and thereby undeniably linking a song contest to a sporting contest, and in particular to the imminent World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa. In terms of the impact of popular culture, the World cup soccer tournament and the Eurovision Song Contest are the two biggest televisions shows in the world, both televisual spectacle for competitive and competing nationalisms. read more
, June 29, 2010
When I was growing up, there were certain books which really galvanized me, making me think that critical writing was as richly evocative as any other kind of writing. One such book was Susan Sontag's "Against Interpretation"; it was so inspiring that I rushed out to get her second collection of essays, "Styles of Radical Will", the minute it was published. (I still have the hardcover, though the jacket has long since disintegrated.) But then I read her novels, "The Benefactor" and "Death Kit", and I was stumped. I couldn't understand how someone with such a keen, critical mind could turn out such ... crap. Soon after, I remember reading Gore Vidal's review of her novels in "The New York Review of Books", in which he explained how the analytic sense and the intellectual enthusiasm, which made Sontag such a formidable essayist, were not the same as the imaginative and emotional qualities needed for a novelist. He noted that Sontag was one of the few American writers well-acquainted with the most recent developments in European literature, but ticking off the influences (a little Sarraute here, a dollop of Robbe-Grillet there, Tomasso Landolfi coming in during the final stretch) wasn't the same as being transported into the imaginative realm of the aesthetic. read more
, October 14, 2009
As HAU’s stage went dark, four Egyptian muezzins illuminated by radiant white Klieg lights started their calls to prayer from the four corners of the auditorium. My first sensation, as I intently watched the dark stage from my seat in one of the front rows, was not determined by sight and vision, but by aurality: I felt pleasure mixed with unease derived from the suddenness of the sensory impact. While the voices were distinct, they produced a pleasant harmony of multivocality, reminiscent of choral or Gregorian chants. read more
, October 5, 2009
"Radio Muezzin" (von Stefan Kaegi). What still resonates, and organizes for me the memory of the entire piece, is the sentence, pronounced quite early on, stating that one of the muezzin’s would only join the others on stage "later…" This announced delay, this procrastinated entering suggests already a kind of separation between those present on stage since the beginning and the belated one, and dramaturgically produces a sense of anticipation clouded by a question: "Why will he come only later?" read more
, October 5, 2009
"Radio Muezzin" (von Stefan Kaegi). Here: Hussein Gouda Hussein Bdawy, Abdelmoty Abdelsamia Ali Hindawy and Mansour Abdelsalam Mansour Namous. On February 26 at the Kule Theatre in Berlin, I saw "Hotel Arabia" by Carola Lehmann and David Merten, who performed their voyage to ‘Arabia’ in a way reminiscent of the early European narratives from Barbary land. The tendency of exoticising otherness was apparent, and the commodification of cultural difference was at times disturbing during the performance. Rimini Protokoll’s intercultural projects, on the other hand, are neither about sublimating otherness nor reversing the gaze, but rather about the possibilities of transferring the debate taking place in developing countries to the metropolis, through the deployment (rather than invention) of the tradition of docu-drama. "Radio Muezzin", which premiered at the HAU 2 on the March 3, 2009, is a prime example of art that bridges the gap between cultures and reaches across the divide to the Other (the not I) during the ‘imperial’ present. read more
, September 21, 2009
Moroccan theater exists in a liminal space, between East and West. It is a fusion of Western theatrical traditions and the Arabo-Tamazegh performance cultures. The hybrid nature of such a theater is evident in the way popular performance behavior such as manifested in performance spaces like al-halqa (the circle) has been transposed from public squares and marketplaces like Marrakech’s jemaa-elfna into modern theater buildings. read more
, September 14, 2009
ahhhh performance: read more
, September 12, 2009
At the time of writing this essay (March 2009), an exhibition entitled “Bangkok 226” had just come to a close at the newly created Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. My expectation was to see an exhibition of works in the visual arts that could tell the story of how Bangkok evolved over the past 200 years. In other words, I had expected those works to speak to me on their own terms and be brought together in this specific exhibition in such a way as to engage in a seamless narrative. What I saw confused me. The choice of artworks which had been borrowed from various museums and collections as well as those specifically commissioned for this exhibition could not, on the whole, be justified on the grounds of their aesthetic value. Walking through the exhibition I soon realized that the organizers had had in mind a documentary on the history of Bangkok. Large panels with detailed accounts of the city’s historical development and descriptions of the individual exhibits had been put up. In the spirit of a documentary, the word seemed to have been granted supremacy over visual expression. I was not sure whether this was intentional. read more