Performing Arts Festivals, Festivalization and Global Public Sphere: Locating DNT Performances of India and the Māori Performances of Aotearoa/New Zealand in Post-colonial Asia-Pacific
The project aims at theorising the idea of ‘festivalization’ of the local and global public sphere generated by performing arts festivals. The thesis challenges the concept of ‘festival’ in its popular framework of a celebratory event that is well-planned, culture specific and entertaining. I provide three different study models to accommodate my theoretical conceptualization and discuss the theory in detail in context of selected case studies. The research also seeks to investigate the politics around (re)presentation of indigeneity through the medium of theatre within various socio-political contexts through case studies from several Indigenous theatre groups located in Oceania and beyond. The project offers detailed discussion of the first two theoretical models developed by me in context of case studies from India and Aotearoa/New Zealand followed by an exploration of the artistic festivals and their implications within and beyond Oceania in context of my third and final study model. The theoretical models study theatre performances in the contexts of their representation, reception and efficacy within the festival generated space as well as the initiatives of Indigenous communities across the globe to create artistic festivals to celebrate their Indigeneity and authority over Indigenous arts. These two focuses together will locate the reception, representation and (re)production of Indigeneity through the medium of theatre within the festivalized space locally and globally. The third study model finally locates the festival itself within both local and global space to explore its political implications within the socio-political context. I also aim to investigate the politics behind provisions of ‘space’ and ‘funds’ for the international display of indigeneity through international performing arts festivals; and juxtapose the tourist centred performing arts festival against the festival created by the Indigenous communities through funding generated though ‘donations’ made by local communities. The discussions on this segment is focused on the politics of (mis)presentation of indigeneity through hybrid performances alongside exotic traditional indigenous performances on international stages. As an Indian citizen, crossing multiple boundaries between the so-called third world, indigenous world and metropolitan culture, I am aware about, respect and acknowledge the Indigenous intellectual and cultural property rights. Being a non-Indigenous researcher working with Indigenous communities, I followed the principles of ‘decolonising methodologies’ (Smith, 1999). I am aware and adhered to the matters including self-determination, cultural aspiration, socio-economic mediation, culturally preferred pedagogy, collective philosophy, extended family structures, respect to Treaty of Waitangi and growing respectful relationships as essential aspects of conducting this research. I have applied collectively chosen pedagogy and philosophy when I conducted the interviews within Indigenous communities and when wrote about them in my thesis. Indigenous theatre within the context of performing arts festival is a rarely explored area of post-colonial studies which makes the present project significant in itself. The project will document original ideas directly from indigenous theatre practitioners and their experiences of participation in international performing arts festivals. And finally, I believe this study could contribute to a better understanding of the politics of international performing arts festivals in (re) producing indigeneity, distinct from their conventional reception as an exotic 'other' culture.