Gestures of resistance between the street and the theatre: documentary theatre in Egypt and Laila Soliman’s No Time For Art

Hussein, Nesreen ORCID logoORCID: (2015) Gestures of resistance between the street and the theatre: documentary theatre in Egypt and Laila Soliman’s No Time For Art. Contemporary Theatre Review, 25 (3) . pp. 357-370. ISSN 1048-6801 [Article] (doi:10.1080/10486801.2015.1049822)

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In this article, I explore a direction in contemporary theatre in Egypt that emerged since the 25 January revolution in 2011 and that employed the immediacy of documentary form as a response to political change, unrest and repression, seeing in documentary theatre a mode of resistance that intervenes in hegemonic discourse. Through extending Peter Weiss’s ideas on documentary theatre and its relationship to political protest, I show how the work explored attempts to extend the struggle on the street, occupying a liminal position between the performance space and the public space, instituting a dialogic relationship between performance and audience as active co-participants in a community ‘in the making.’ As such, documentary form models a constantly shifting and open-ended revolutionary process. In light of Weiss’s theatrical model, I focus on Egyptian director and playwright Laila Soliman’s performance series No Time for Art, especially its last performance to date, which demonstrates a particular inflection of the documentary mode contemporaneous to the 2011 Egyptian uprising. The series is shaped by a performance form that seeks a place directly connected to and implicated in the broader events taking place, while disrupting conventional modes of representation and rupturing the tendency to fix and reify events from the revolution. The open and direct mimetic mode shown in this series includes the audience in collective and intimate acts of bearing witness, in ways that extend Weiss’s proposed ideal of ‘theatre of actuality’ and puts forward the practice of theatre itself as a ‘gesture’ of political resistance.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online: 17 Jul 2015
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Theatre Arts group
Item ID: 15505
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Contemporary Theatre Review on 17/07/2015, available online:
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Depositing User: Nesreen Hussein
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2015 15:06
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 22:39

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