Western culture has a long history of cultural appropriation, a history that has particular resonance within performance practice. In this new study, Patrice Pavis asks what is at stake--politically and aesthetically--when cultures meet at the crossroads of theatre.
Pavis analyzes a series of major recent productions, including Brook's "Mahabharata," Cixous/Mnouchkine's "Indiande," and Barba's "Faust." These provide a starting point for discussions of translation, appropriation, adaptation, cultural misunderstanding, and theatrical exploration. Never losing sight of the theatrical experience, Pavis confronts problems of colonialism, anthropology, and ethnography. This signals a radical movement away from the director and the word, toward the complex relationship between performance, performer, and spectator.
Despite the problematic politics of cultural exchange in the theater, interculturalism is not a one-sided process. Using the metaphor of the hourglass to discuss the transfer between source and target culture, Pavis explores what happens when the hourglass is turned upside down and the "foreign" culture speaks for itself.