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

Fawzia Afzal-Khan - HARDBACK Price: $29.99

Starting with examining the reasons why theatre failed to take root and develop in Pakistan, this book studies the critical role played by ‘alternative’ or ‘parallel’ theatre in the civil society of Pakistan

This theatre is seen as a vanguard of intellectuals and cultural activists, concerned not only with producing plays, but also with developing theatre as a tool both of conscientization over repressive norms and customs, and of resistance to oppressive state policies, thus broadening the scope of the term ‘theatre’ to encompass the notion of theatre-in-development

This book argues that secular alternative theatre in Pakistan since the late twentieth century is a locus of cultural conflict, wherein concerns such as women’s and minorities’ rights, class and gender issues, language politics and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism are defined and contested in the evolving and often conflictive relationship between the Pakistani State and Pakistani society

Additionally, there is a look at instances of experimental theatre in New York post-9/11 through which the author develops an argument about the performance of identity, both within Pakistan and globally

"A timely contribution to South Asian theatre studies and beyond. Providing extensive case studies of the parallel or alternative theatre from diverse regions in Pakistan, it engages with questions of the State and artistic / aesthetic space, the role of religion and women’s rights in shaping this space, its artistic daring, successes and failures. These are issues critical to the entire South Asian region: that a theatre of protest emerges, despite its contradictions and against all odds, is a celebration of the region’s struggles for greater democracy, plurality and tolerance . . ." ~ NELOUFER DE MEL, University of Columbo, Sri Lanka

"Fawzia Afzal-Khan is that rare person who is as fine a thinker and writer as she is artist and activist. A fierce advocate of free expression and women’s rights, her book is a triumph of scholarship—and an exciting, up-close account of what it’s like to do radical street theatre in today’s Pakistan" ~ RICHARD SCHECHNER, Editor, TDR

"While she debunks some stereotypes and dislocates other prevailing cliches about Pakistani society and Pakistani women, Fawzia’s very persona, an educated, professional Pakistani/Muslim woman performer, challenges the prevailing outsider’s stereotypes about “Muslim women”—passive, victimized and oppressed" ~ SHAHLA HAERI

FAWZIA AFZAL-KHAN, Professor of English, Montclair State University, USA, is a scholar-performer who draws on both her academic training in the US and her insider experience with alternative ‘street’ theatre groups in Pakistan to develop this unique first-of-its kind study

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