Denise Varney, Peter Eckersall, Chris Hudson, and Barbara Hatley, Theatre and Performance in the Asia-Pacific: Regional Modernities in the Global Era (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Rand T Hazou


Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.—Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

I have often found myself rephrasing the quote above by the modernist American-Lebanese artist and poet Kahlil Gibran in order to argue that ‘traditions’ should not be an anchor that secures us to a nostalgic or idealised past. This has been especially useful in conversations about theatre or creative practice in the Middle East, where conservative and essentialist sentiments might often
valorise the need to stick to ‘our traditions’ or ‘our culture’, in arguments often pitted against progressive practices, ideas, or politics. Given the impact of Western cultural and political imperialism that is generally perceived as an ongoing project in the Middle East, it has often been important to argue that, rather than holding us back, traditions should carry us forward, helping us
to engage rather than disengage from others and the world. These sentiments and Gibran’s nautical metaphor also resonate with the main currents underlying the wonderfully engaging publication Theatre and Performance in the Asia-Pacific, which charts the impact of globalisation in the region and maps the flow of economies, culture and the arts beyond defined geopolitical borders of the nation state.

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