A Critical Stage : The Role of Secular Alternative Theatre in Pakistan

Fawzia Afzal Khan, Seagull Books, 2005, x, 143 p, ISBN : 8170462754, $25.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

A Critical Stage : The Role of Secular Alternative Theatre in Pakistan/Fawzia Afzal-Khan

Contents: 1. Prologue: a word about the theatre landscape of Pakistan. 2. The role of parallel theatre in contemporary Pakistan. 3. Postcolonial desire: seeking methodology, performing identity. 4. Gender and class: the case of Ajoka and Lok Rehas in Pakistani Punjab. 5. Pakistani community theatre and the NGO movement. 6. Exposed by Pakistani alternative theatre: an unholy alliance. Conclusion. Epilogue: the female body as site of attack: will the 'real' Muslim Woman's Body please reveal itself? Appendix: Selected Pakistani theatre personalities and institutions: some notes. Bibliography.

"Starting with examining the reasons why theatre failed to take root and develop in Pakistan, this book studies the critical role played by 'alternative' or 'parallel' theatre in the civil society of Pakistan. This theatre is seen as a vanguard of intellectuals and cultural activists, concerned not only with producing plays, but also with developing theatre as a tool both of conscientization over repressive norms and customs, and of resistance to oppressive state policies, thus broadening the scope of the term 'theatre' to encompass the notion of theatre--in-development.

This book argues that secular alternative theatre in Pakistan since the late twentieth century is a locus of cultural conflict, wherein concerns such as women's and minorities' rights, class and gender issues, language politics and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism are defined and contested in the evolving and often conflictive relationship between the Pakistani State and Pakistani society. Additionally, there is a look at instances of experimental theatre in New York Post-9/I I through which the author develops an argument about the performance of identity, both within Pakistan and globally.

A timely contribution to South Asian theatre studies and beyond. Providing extensive case studies of the parallel or alternative theatre from diverse regions in Pakistan, it engages with questions of the state and artistic /aesthetic space, the role of religion and women's rights in shaping this space, its artistic daring, successes and failures. These are issues critical to the entire South Asian region: that a theatre of protest emerges, despite its contradictions and against all odds, is a celebration of the region's struggles for greater democracy, plurality and tolerance." (jacket)

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