The Politics of Compassion in Theatre and the Economics of Emotions: Alladeen at the 2004 Melbourne International Arts Festival

Peta Tait


Part of the 2004 Melbourne International Arts Festival program, Alladeen was a theatrical performance about workers who have become performers in early twenty-first century global corporate culture. It depicts how some North American telecommunications call-centres now operate out of Bangalore, India. A joint project created by New York’s The Builders Association and London’s motiroti, it juxtaposed live performance, filmed documentary footage and computer-generated multimedia effects in scenarios about fused national identity and linguistic dexterity. A reference to the story of Aladdin and the magic of a wish-fulfilling genie was suggestive of Edward Said’s analysis of Western culture imagining the East through its production of ‘orientalism’. But Alladeen’s artistic significance belongs within the politics of the present, highlighting the impasse of global capitalism, as its technology brings diverse worlds closer together while reinforcing cultural hegemony.


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