Session 1: Interculturalism (Wednesday 25th May)


Wednesday 25th May, 6-8pm

Senate House, room 104 (first floor)


"Interculturalism and performance is perhaps the most talked about and controversial cultural practice of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, characterising at best a sharing and mutual borrowing of the manifestation of one theatre practice by another. At worst it features the annihilation of indigenous pre-modern practices by a rapacious ‘First World’ capitalism." - Brian Singleton, 2003.

"[P]rocesses of exchange between cultures have been going on at least since the onset of modernity and, as a result, cultures permanently undergo change and transition. This situation renders any attempt to draw a clear line between ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’ futile. Yet, this is not to say that differences between cultures do not exist. The differences are simply not fixed and given once and for all; they are permanently generated anew.
" - Erika Fischer-Lichte, 2009.

A heated controversy around intercultural performance has dogged theatre scholarship since the 1970s. Recently, however, there has been an attempt to move away from the term ‘intercultural’ and all it connotes. But what exactly is interculturalism and why has it been so contentious?

This session will begin with a presentation by Emer O’Toole (RHUL). Engaging with contemporary examples of theatre practice, she will ask whether intercultural tensions are truly dissolving or if they are being swept conveniently under the carpet. Emer is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway. Using postcolonial theory, her thesis tackles the intercultural debate by suggesting that there is a relationship between rights of representation, the socio-political effects of a performance, and collaborators’ agency.

Recommended Reading

Schechner, Richard, "A Reply to Rustom Bharucha," Asian Theatre Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Autumn, 1984), pp. 245-253.

Bharucha, Rustom, "A Reply to Richard Schechner," Asian Theatre Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Autumn, 1984), pp. 254-260.

Supplementary Reading

Fischer-Lichte, Erika, "Interweaving Cultures in Performance: Different States of Being In-Between," New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4 (November 2009), pp. 391-401.

All are welcome to attend.

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