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Reading & Discussion: Dramatic Readings of Excerpts from the Plays of Jalila Baccar

Thu, December 2, 2010 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Readings in Arabic and English, with Video Footage, Followed by a Discussion Moderated by Professor Marvin Carlson

Free and Open to the Public

Reading in Arabic by Jalila Baccar

Reading in English by Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian

Introduction and Discussion Moderated by Professor Marvin Carlson

Tunisian playwright, actress, and one of the most important voices in Arab theater Jalila Baccar. has performed in over twenty plays, including major theatrical productions that have been staged worldwide: Junun (Dementia, 2009) at the Edinburgh Festival, Khamsoun (Captive Bodies, 2006) - the first Arab play to be performed at the Théâtre de L'Odéon in Paris, and Araberlin (2002), among many others. Baccar studied French literature at the Tunisian Ecole Normale Supérieure, and joined Le Théâtre du Sud in 1973. She co-founded the first private theatre company, Le Nouveau Théâtre in 1976, as well as in 1994 Familia Productions with her husband Fadhel Jaibi who has been an instrumental figure in modernizing Tunisian theatre and wrting and directing roles that showcases the talents of Jalila Baccar.

Baccar uses theatre and the arts to address political and social issues. Her roles, acting and theatrical narratives are extremely intricate, psychologically multi-layered, and have the uncanny ability to capture the complexity and depth of grand themes prevalent in Arab societies.

Marvin A. Carlson is Sidney E. Cohn Distinguished Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center, CUNY. His research and teaching interests include dramatic theory and Western European theatre history and dramatic literature, especially of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. He has been awarded the ATHE Career Achievement Award, the George Jean Nathan Prize, the Bernard Hewitt prize, the George Freedley Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been a Walker-Ames Professor at the University of Washington, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Indiana University, a Visiting Professor at the Freie Universitat of Berlin, and a Fellow of the American Theatre. In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Athens. His best-known book, Theories of the Theatre (Cornell University Press, 1993), has been translated into seven languages. His 2001 book, The Haunted Stage won the Calloway Prize. His newest book, Speaking in Tongues, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2006.

Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian (actress, playwright) has performed at La Mama, HERE, and as part of the Invisible City Theater Company and Theatre in the Flesh. Along with singers Teni Apelian and Yeraz Markarian, she founded Zulal, an Armenian a cappella folk trio, which has been featured on WNYC’s New Sounds, and has toured the United States and Canada, performing in such venues as Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Symphony Space, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, along with performances for Cirque du Soleil and The Silk Road Project.

Junun (Dementia)

To Watch, click here

One day in June 1998 a middle-aged psychotherapist notices a young patient leaning against the interior asylum wall; his jaws are clenched, his eyes ablaze. She finds herself drawn to him and his problems and takes on his treatment, determined to save him from a threatened lifetime of confinement. This play emerged from a real situation; the patient, NUN, is a 25 year old schizophrenic, the youngest of nine children. Despite the archaic practices of the medical institution, the resistance of the patient’s family and NUN’s own demons, the psychotherapist begins to help him pick up the scattered pieces of his personality. The developing relationship transforms both of their lives forever. Jalila Baccar delivers an urgent message about life in Tunisia today and about the human condition in general. This production will be a British premiere and is directed by Manal Awad, a student graduating from the RADA MA in Theatre Directing, and uses professional actors.

Khamsoun (Captive Bodies)

To Watch, click here

Back from France, a physics teacher, the daughter of leftist intellectuals, blows herself up on Friday, November 11, 2005 in the courtyard at the foot of a pole carrying the Tunisian flag. The act plunges the country into turmoil and sets in motion the anti-terrorist draconian measures by the ruling Tunisian authoritarian regime. Civil society, on the other hand, is in a quest, an investigation, confronting the present with the past, male and female opinions, the new adult generation with their parents, Marxist rationalism of the 1960's and 1970's with fundamentalist convictions, as well as the post-colonial West with the East. In Captive Bodies, absence and alienation are overwhelmingly present. How could a girl from a well-to-do family and with a secular education - whose father, a former communist activist, who spent ten years in the jails of Bourguiba, and whose mother, a retired high-ranking senior official who campaigns for human rights - be captured by the sway of Islamist resistance?

Last updated: 2010-11-27 21:14:58

Jalila Baccar
Jalila Baccar

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