Mayar Alexan: Recycling Tragedy


Thesis Advisor: Ana Teixeira Pinto

June 2021


This thesis concerns the presence of "Arab" theater on the European stage. Whilst looking through the lens of the white-oriented European institutions, it tackles different forms of fetishism and exoticism that are associated with the Arab theater and its consumers from the white-oriented audience. Furthermore, it examines the tragic frame that prevails in the represented image of the Arab artist by dissecting the term “tragedy” and looking at some of the pillars and conditions of the Greek tragedy. The research engages in a metaphorical comparison with the strategies and forms under which Arab theatrical performances appear with the white-oriented European platforms. This comparison allows us to study the interaction of the Arab theater-maker with its new surrounding, and to review terms such as "compassion" and "fear", "catharsis", and the "noble act" in its contemporary form. On another level, based on the thoughts of scholars like Edward Said, Frantz Fanon and David Marriott, the thesis investigates the boundaries and the distances that separate the European audience from the Arab performances, taking into consideration elements such as race, language, and gender, which play a major role in determining the reception mechanisms toward the artist and its work. Using theatre as a study case, the thesis displays the problematic edge of the identity politics in commodifying the Arab artistic product, based on racial stereotypical ground, thereby firming old colonial orientalist patterns and forcing an unbalanced power structure between the Arab artist and its European viewers.