Minority Theatre on the Global Stage: Challenging Paradigms from the Margins

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9781443837989: Minority Theatre on the Global Stage: Challenging Paradigms from the Margins

All over the world, in the most varied contexts, postcolonial or otherwise, contemporary theatre is a rich source for increasing the visibility of communities generally perceived by others as minorities, or those who see themselves as such. Whether of a linguistic, ethnic, political, social, cultural or sexual nature, the claims of minorities enjoy a privileged medium in theatre. Perhaps it is because theatre itself is linked to the notions of centre and periphery, conformism and marginality, domination and subjugation, notions that minority theatre constantly examines by staging them, that it is so sensitive to the issues of troubled and conflicted identity and able to give them a universal resonance. Among the questions raised by this volume, is that of the relationship between the particular and the more general aims of this type of theatre. How is it possible to speak to everyone, or at least to the majority, when one is representing the voice of the few? How can the majority be reached in the name of the minority? Beyond such considerations, urgent critical examination of the function and aims of minority theatre is needed. What are the conditions in which a type of drama that is necessarily taken up with the daily existence of a rigidly defined group can circulate in the wider community? To what kind of public is such drama addressed? Does it have an exemplary nature? In other words, how is it possible to avoid the pitfalls and the dead end of ghettoization? Certain types of audience-specific theatre are examined in this context, as, for example, children's theatre, theatre as therapy, theatre as an educational tool, gay theatre etc. More generally, particular attention is paid to the claims of minorities within culturally and economically dominant western countries. Many regional theatrical events try to avoid the cliches sometimes inherent in folk theatre. As for those who are victims of social exclusion, racism and discrimination, they may attempt in various ways to recreate the utopian vision of an authentically public form of dramatic art, addressed to the common wo/man. These are some of the avenues explored by this volume which aims to answer fundamental questions such as: What is minority theatre and why does theatre, a supposedly bourgeois, not to say elitist, art form, have such affinity with the margins? What if, particularly in contemporary society, the theatre as a form, were merely playing out its fundamentally marginal status? The authors of these essays show how different forms of minority theatre can challenge cultural consensus and homogenization, while also aspiring to universality. They also address the central question of the place and status of apparently marginal forms of theatre in the context of globalization and in doing so re-examine theatre itself as a genre. Not only do they illustrate how minority theatre can challenge the dominant paradigms that govern society, but they also suggest their own more flexible and challenging frameworks for theatrical activity. The experimental and ephemeral nature of theatre means that it cannot easily be reproduced and packaged as a commodity and is far from constituting an unproblematic cultural product to be sold on the world market.

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About the Author:

Madelena Gonzalez is Professor of Anglophone Literature at the University of Avignon. Her recent publications include: Fiction after the Fatwa: Salman Rushdie and the Charm of Catastrophe (2005), Translating Identity and the Identity of Translation (2006), Theatre des minorities: Mises en scene de la marge a l'epoque contemporaine (2008), Generic Instability and Identity in the Contemporary Novel (2010), Authenticity and Legitimacy in Minority Theatre: Constructing Identity (2010). She has published widely on contemporary literature and culture and is currently head of the Avignon-based, pluridisciplinary research group, Cultural Identity, Texts and Theatricality. Helene Laplace-Claverie is Professor of French Literature at the University of Avignon where she co-directs the theatre branch of the research group, Cultural Identity, Texts and Theatricality. Her main field of research is 19th- and 20th-century French Theatre with a focus on minor forms such as ballet, theatrical extravaganzas and pantomime. Her publications include: Modernes feeries. Le theatre francais du 20e siecle entre reenchantement et desenchantement (Paris, Champion, 2007) and Ecrire pour la danse. Les livrets de ballet de Theophile Gautier a Jean Cocteau (1870-1914) (Paris, Champion, 2001).

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