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A scenographer's perspective on Arabic theatre and Arab-Muslim identity

By Khalifah Rashed Alhajri


This study explores the issue of Arab-Muslim identity from the viewpoint of a Kuwaiti visual artist and scenographer who is also an academic and teacher. It focuses on the\ud history and current condition of the Arabic theatre and on the nature and qualities of Islamic art and architecture. The thesis consists of an introduction, six central chapters\ud and a conclusion.\ud \ud Chapter one is a general introduction presenting the context, genesis and approach of the study and a number of questions pertinent to the researcher. It reviews the main sources used and outlines the organisation of the chapters.\ud \ud Chapter two investigates the relationship between ritual and drama, with particular attention to the Athenian Dionysia, the Cambridge Ritualists and their influence, the\ud ta'ziyah, and ritual theatre and the avant garde in the twentieth century.\ud \ud Chapter three is concerned with the definition and typology of Islamic art and architecture, and with contesting views of the nature of this art. It goes on to discuss\ud forms of Islamic ornament and the development of mosque architecture.\ud \ud Chapter four examines the various arguments around the contentious issue of the apparent lack of an indigenous Arabic theatre tradition. It then traces the history of\ud Arabic theatre from its medieval origins to the advent of European-influenced forms in the nineteenth century.\ud \ud Chapter five first discusses the origin, development and significance of the ta'ziyah. It then examines recent attempts to present this unique phenomenon outside its cultural context, and considers the arguments concerning the validity of such experiments.\ud \ud Chapter six is concerned with the development of modern Arabic drama from 1847 to the present day. Focusing particularly on three twentieth-century playwrights whose work was chosen for the practice part of this thesis, and ends with an examination of the current state of the Arabic theatre.\ud \ud Chapter seven concentrates on scenography and its place in today's Arabic theatre. It comprises a number of parts and includes autobiographical material such as an account of\ud the experience of a ta'ziyah performance in Syria, as well as, selected comments by individuals connected with the Kuwaiti theatre and extracts from a radio discussion. It\ud concludes with a presentation of the practice work carried out as part of the study.\ud \ud Chapter eight draws together the themes, discussions and arguments of the cultural chapters, considers these in the light of the current condition of the Arabic theatre, and\ud suggests possible ways in which that theatre might be revived

Publisher: Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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