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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2009

E 392M • Staging the Orient

Unique Days Time Location Instructor


Course Description

Edward Said's notorious remark that the east is the stage on which the west stages its worst fears is usually taken as a metaphorical self-indulgence. In so much recent literary theory the stage is used as a fictive construct for the aesthetic and ideological events of other genres and media. This course will engage the metaphorical insufficiency of Said’s pronouncement precisely be taking it literally. The course will take on the theatrical productions of the later nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries in particular which figure the East in a pronounced way. These plays take up the matters of ethnicity, region, language, gender and sexuality in a markedly "Orientalist" context. Perhaps we shall not only reveal what is being done with the imperial ideologies and experiences of this century-long critical moment but also assess how great a role the theatre played in this process. Did the stage transform or merely serve and reflect the age of the grand narrative of nationalism and empire, a period which matches exactly the moment when modern dram is itself being invented? To focus the course’s range more exactly we shall look especially at figurations of India, North Africa, Eastern Europe/Jewish Diaspora, and Japan. We shall conclude with a reply from the East back to the “West.”

The course will serve a three-fold purpose: 1) an introduction to some of the major European playwrights of this critical one hundred years of dramatic self-definition and innovation; 2) an introduction to colonial and post-colonial critiques of late nineteenth and early twentieth century theatre ranging from Saïd himself to Spivak, Bhabha, Barba, Phelan, and Boal; 3) and an introduction to performance theory with special focus on identity, audience and venue as constitutive of a performance's meaning and impact. The course will finally encourage us to think about some of the possibilities for texts, which reply to Europe, and take the debate the next stage, from imposition to reciprocal dialog.


Euripedes, Medea and The Bacchae

Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, and Othello

Verdi, Aïda (1871), Lewis, The Bells (1871), Wilde, Vera, or the Nihilists (1882), Gilbert, The Mikado (1885), Wilde, Salomé (1891), Puccini, Madama Butterfly (1904), Puccini, Turandot (1926), Artaud, "The Theatre of Cruelty (Second Manifesto)" and “On the Balinese Theatre” (1938), Osborne, The Entertainer (1956), Genet, The Blacks (1961), Fugard, Bloodknot (1961), Bond, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (1968), Currimbhoy, Darjeeling Tea? (1971), Churchill, Cloud Nine (1979), Kureishi, Borderline (1981), David Henry Hwang M. Butterfly (1988), Stoppard, Indian Ink (1995), A.R. Gurney, Far East (1999), Wally Yang, Making Tracks (2002)


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