Interweaving Performance Cultures
Nilu Kamaluddin is a theatre director and researcher affiliated with the Centre for Ibsen Studies, University of Oslo, where he was a member of the Ibsen Between Cultures project. He has been the Chair of the Theatre Department at Hyderabad University, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts at the University of Chittagong and Artistic Director of the Centre for Asian Theatre (CAT) in Dhaka. Nilu Kamaluddin has been a member of the jury for the International Ibsen Prize and a board member of the International Ibsen Committee. He has published several research articles on Ibsen. His transcultural adaptation NativePeer, based on Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, has been translated into Hindi, Urdu and Bangla. He has also adapted A Doll’s House (Putuler Itikatha). His directorial work ranges from classical to modern and contemporary plays, produced in different countries. He uses dramatic texts within a contemporary socio-political frame, and his artistic processes are about varying degrees of transformation.
Local is Local No More: A Transcultural Adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt
The aim of this project is to develop a new concept of space. Dominant theories within the field of intercultural theatre practice, including Erika Fischer-Lichte’s notion of interweaving performance cultures, will be revisited. The hypothesis is that local is local no more. This idea is mainly being developed on the basis of my experience with the transcreated text NativePeer, based on Henrik Ibsen’s text Peer Gynt, which I directed at the National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi, in 2015.
It is my reading of Ibsen’s text that Peer on his journey crosses borders and encounters different cultures, and this constituted the point of departure for the transcreation of the text. The crucial task was to connect this to a different temporality and materiality within “India’s World”. Transculturation through multilayer negotiations within colonially mediated modernity, which represents the juncture of tradition and modernity of the contemporary socio-political topography in India, constituted the core of the process. I had thus to negotiate Ibsen’s text within the interlocking of existing structures such as socio-linguistic plurality, ethnicity-based cultural diversity, and caste, class and gender hierarchies as well as processes of change related to the swift expansion of a capitalist and market-based economy, the growth of Hindu nationalism, and power politics. Traditional life patterns are thus continuously changing and specific local cultures hardly exist anymore.
- Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. London: The University of Minnesota, 1996.
- Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 1994.
- Fischer-Lichte, Erika. The Transformative Power of Performance: A new aesthetics. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.
- Nilu, Kamaluddin. “Intercultural Theatre Practice: Colonial Legacy and the Physical Displacement, Negotiation and Reception of Ibsen’s Plays in Bangladesh”, in Frode Helland and Julie Holledge, (eds.) Ibsen Between Cultures. Oslo: Novus Forlag, 2016, pp. 143-158.