Political Theater in the Arab World: Truth and Storytelling, from Private thoughts to the Public Sphere

Storytelling’s legacy dates back centuries in the Middle East, where it has long been a rich cultural tool and medium that people use to explore love, war, and politics. In a recent dynamic session of the New York-Beirut Briefings series, theater scholars and practitioners from the American University of Beirut – Dr Robert Myers and Sahar Assaf -- and Laurie Newman from the Tectonic Theater Project in New York City explored theater’s many roles and impacts in the Middle East and the West. The event format was a 90-minute roundtable discussion with participants at the AUB office in New York City, which was live broadcasted and connected with scholars and theater practitioners in Beirut.  

“How do you explain war?,” began Robert Meyers, co-director of the AUB Theater Initiative. One can reach for history books, journalistic accountings, an endless array of pundits or, posits Meyers, the theater. The play “Information for Foreigners”, a theater production of the Dirty War in Argentina does just that through an exploration of war through the stage. “We took this play and tried to reinterpret it into something that speaks to the Lebanese Civil War,” he said of his work with Sahar Assaf, Assistant Professor of Theater and co-director of the Theater Initiative at AUB. 

Read a text summary here. Watch a video of the entire discussion here.

Video Highlights of the Discussion

Participants

  • Robert Myers, Professor of English and Creative Writing at AUB

  • Sahar Assaf, Assistant Professor of Theater at AUB

  • Laurie Lathem, Director of the Moment Work Institute at Tectonic Theater Project

  • Sany Abdul Baki, Instructor at Lebanese American University - Byblos