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September 10, 2019

US professor discusses performance activism, transversal potentialities


September 10, 2019

Islamabad : The department of English of the International Islamic University (IIU) arranged a talk on Performance Activism, Transversal Potentialities by Bryan Reynolds, Chancellor’s Professor Claire Trevor Professor of Drama, University of California, Irvine.

It was also attended by IIU Rector Dr. Masoom Yasinzai, Dean Faculty of Languages and Literature (FLL) Dr. Ayaz Afsar, Dr. Muhammad Sheeraz Dasti, Dr. Munazza Yaqoob, Dr. Abid Masood (coordinator of the talk) and other faculty members.

“The lecture is on my work with Mark LeVine and our collaborations with the Transversal Theater Company and local artists in various countries in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia in the creation of politically engaged performing arts under oppressive societal structures and in conflict zones,” said Bryan.

Discussing the theme of the talk, he maintained “as promises for the future, children occupy a crucial position in all human societies. However, because of this crucial position, the figure of the child, as a paradigmatic trope of “child” or incarnation of “childhood,” poses an anxious contribution to theoretical discourses of subjectivity, and political subjectivity especially, as well as to their practical implementation into 'civil society'.

He furthered that the child embodies aspects of alterity and is permitted de facto certain liberties based on assumptions about its developing social identity and the limits it presents with regard to sanctioned subjectivation.

He said that contemporary cultural representations of childhood often reveal fissures in the logic and assumptive frameworks they reciprocally attempt to support. He argued: without assuming an ethical position on children’s roles within this spectrum, we can observe that the possibility of rupturing dominant social systems accompanies the child’s cognitive, emotional, and physical development.

Bryan said that to function in society, then, one must have spent time at least rehearsing, typically with much play, society’s possible unraveling.

“I want to argue that, rather than containing this notion as a closed-off space/time in which alterity is stripped and adult subjects are created, childhood’s condition as necessarily subversive — a fugitive rehearsal within official culture — is rich with alternative conceptions, fluctuations, and performances of subjectivity, and thus offers much potential for children as vanguards of cultural resistance and change.”

IIU Rector, in his speech said that Theatre has great social significance. It has the potential to teach through showing not telling. He said Human beings, especially in their childhood phase learn a lot of things through observation. They imitate others and imitation of action, in the words of great Greek philosopher Aristotle, is the basis of drama. Rector IIU said If we want to instill positive values in our society, we can use theatre to do this and vice versa.

Referring to the work of Bryan and oppression in the world specially talking about the children protest and plight in Kashmir, Dr. Masoom said that the world is passing through a difficult phase in its history.

"There are wars, occupations, bloodsheds. There are oppressed and oppressors. As practitioners of theatre, it is the duty of directors and artists to highlight the oppressor as the oppressor and the oppressed as oppressed."

He said if the Kashmir crisis was considered, it is almost a month that people of Kashmir are living under the curfew.

“The world has almost turned a deaf ear to the plight of Kashmiris. No one is paying any attention to their screams, children are being blinded by the pellet gun,” he said.

He hoped that our distinguished guest would highlight the plight of Kashmiris as he has done for Palestinians thorough his play Nabi Saleh that has shown the plight of people of Palestine” said IIU Rector.

The audience asked questions about the works of Professor especially regarding the theme of his drama Nabi Saleh, protest tourism and plight of being in oppression in front of other nations, which were answered in detail by the speaker of talk. In the end, a university crest was presented to Professor Bryan Reynolds.

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