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Alkazi Theatre Archives

A Bibliographic Listing From The Archive

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

Book: A Critical Stage: The Role of Secular Alternative Theatre in Pakistan
Written by: Fawzia Afzal-Khan
Published by: Seagull Books, 2005

A Critical Stage is an analysis of the growth and development of ‘alternative theatre’ or ‘the parallel theatre’ in post-partition Pakistan, where theatre and expressive art forms faced strong antipathy from the state as well as emerging religious fundamentalists. The book studies the role played by the ‘alternative theatre’ in strengthening the civil society in Pakistan analyzing this movement and the development of theatre as a tool of challenging the repressive norms and customs and oppressive state policies. Fawzia Afzal-Khan argues that the secular-alternative theatre in Pakistan since the 1990s has become a space for reflecting cultural conflict – bringing to fore the concerns pertaining to gender rights, minority exploitation, class and women issues, language issues and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Through caste study analysis of experimental theatre performances that emerged in New York post 9/11, the author builds an argument about the performance of identity, within Pakistan and globally.

“The cultural memories set in motion by colonialist and anti-colonialist performances alike, both of which derive their legitimacy through religio-judicial control of ‘other’ – the ultimate ‘other’ being the figure of Woman – have once again been mobilized in the wake of 9/11 in ways that are circumscribed or overdetermined by these overlapping yet divergent ‘takes’ on the past. In this context, it becomes important to raise the question of how our cultural pasts have been perceived, explored, and debated by the theatre (whose theatre?) and how today’s theatrical events can construct cultural memories in the present and for the future (by whom, for whom?).” (pg 112)

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