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Peter Brook's Heart of Light: ‘Primitivism’ and intercultural theatre

Moody, D. (1995) Peter Brook's Heart of Light: ‘Primitivism’ and intercultural theatre. New Theatre Quarterly, 11 (41). pp. 33-39.

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Peter Brook's work has always figured in debates over 'intercultural' projects in the con- temporary theatre. However, the controversy has most often centred on his engagement with Asian theatrical traditions, and in particular on his production of The Mahabharata. David Moody here examines Peter Brook's writings on Africa, as theatrical 'discourse' with its own theoretical half-life quite distinct from actual productions. This discourse, it is argued, can be described as 'primitivist', in that it constructs the African audience as, in Barthes's term, 'degree zero' - a 'limit-text' to universal theatrical communication. In doing so it presents a limiting version of African theatrical traditions themselves, and, as a result, reinforces a broader, more destructive global discourse of cultural primitivism concerning African and so-called 'indigenous' art and performance. David Moody, who currently lectures in Theatre and Drama Studies at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia, is a playwright, actor, and director who has written extensively on African, post-colonial, and popular theatre, and is now engaged in his own problematic intercultural projects.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: © 1995 Cambridge University Press
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