Irene Fernandez Ramos
From the 70s to the present, theatre’s evolution has kept pace of the social and political changes in Palestine. This research will focus in the representation of oppressed identities through the dramatic body and how this ‘body’ can be both used as a ‘collective’ or ‘individual’ signifier of Palestinian experience. Looking at the representation of human body as a trans-cultural symbol, I will analyse how it reproduces patterns of identity construction when the individual freedom of movement –both in a physical and psychological way- is compromised.
My main question is if this theatre has evolved from a focus on authenticity and collective narratives of oppression towards an allegory of political ‘immobility’; a new theatre of disenchantment and increasingly focused on the individual experience as a consequence of the creation of the Palestinian National Authority –as an imaginary culmination of Palestinian national aspirations-, the Peace Process of Oslo (1995) and its miscarriage with the outbreak of the second Intifada (2000). ‘Lived experience’ has gained a central status on stage in order to de-legitimize collective discourses of identity and therefore the body has become ‘individual’ signifier rather than a ‘collective’ signifier of the Palestinian experience.
My research is located within the discipline of Cultural Studies and, for that reason, a semiotic analysis of text and discourse will have a central position. I will be talking about questions of performance, interpretation and representation and connect them to the socio-political context in the different geographical scenarios of the Palestinian struggle: West Bank, Gaza, Palestinian Diaspora and Palestinian Israelis. The research will focus in productions –or adaptations- built through participatory, collaborative and improvisation techniques by groups of individuals as exercises of democratic performance. Besides, I will be looking at aspects such as the relationship body-space, the role of the ‘gendered body’, access to theatre (performers, producers and audiences), influence of ‘western’ authors and, in late years, restrictions of ‘western’ donors guidelines for cultural projects.