Contentious Dramaturgies in the countries of the Arab Spring (The Case of Morocco)

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There are many parallels between the failure of avant-garde art in Europe and America in the historical post-1968 moment and the refashioning of Arab Avant-garde aesthetics after the historical defeat of Jamal Abdel Nasser in 1967. The 2011 so-called Arab Spring has, indeed, intensified, or rather, radicalized the previous Arab Avant-garde critique of modernist regimes of theatrical representation, re-injecting more “worldliness, or ‘historical actuality’, ‘figuration’, and ‘narrative’ into modernist ‘formalist’ self-reflexivity’.” (Breger, 5) If the retrieval of traditional performance cultures lies at the heart of Arab Avant-garde of the late 60s, the present aesthetics of narrative performance move well beyond that.

Contentious Dramaturgies in the countries of the Arab Spring

Some of the questions which arise in the context of the present introduction to alternative dramaturgies involve the complexities between two different logics: performance and archive, disappearance and documentation. The archive logic explored by Derrida’s Archive Fever invokes a dialectical oscillation between commencement and commandment; it combines the practice of storing and restoring. Unlike the museums’ tasks of “archiving, categorizing and indexing”, performance “challenges categorization, which was originally its point […] It’s not always an easy fit, but maybe what’s interesting is the way in which the past is reframed in the present.” The cultural urge to document the ‘Arab Spring’ — and by extention, the Years of Lead in the Morocco that was— explains a great deal about the desire for re-enacting the memory of the past/future. Arabic re-enactments of the Arab Spring render the pastness of the past ‘both palpable and a very present matter,’ in Rebecca Schneider’s terms.

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