Self-Representation and the Change of Position: The Role of Arab American Theater in the 21st Century

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Vibha Sharma
Chamaiporn Buddharat
Mohammed Yassin Mohd Aba Sha'ar

Abstract

Arab American theater refers to theater performances by Arab American playwrights and artists from the early decades of 20th century onward. It dramatizes contemporary issues that challenge the Arab American community in the United States. Arab American theater discusses mainstream American culturend the minority cultureArab Americans in different theater performances, reflecting the relationship between the two cultures and how each one looks at and negotiates itself with the other. It provides a bifocal vision of the two cultures as it delineates understanding, acceptance, repudiation, or negotiation between both cultures. This paper, thus, sheds light on American discourses, as well as Arab American theater performances as counter discourses which provide space to depict fairly images of their communities and cultures. The paper critically analyzes some plays, written and performed by Arab American playwrights with the intention of expounding their attempts to resist, recast, restage, and redefine negative depictions. The main contention of this paper is to expose how Arab American theater plays an important role in the lives of Arab Americas in the early 21st century, as it gives the Arab American playwrights space to articulate their identity and voice the challenges they face in American society. It explicates how the position of Arab Americans has changed from invisible to hyper-visible, from passive to dynamic, from silent to vibrant and from an unknown to a well-known community. 

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