• Donia Mounsef University of Alberta
  • Mai Hussein University of Alberta


Palabras clave:

Theatre, Performance, Trauma, Witnessing, Memorialist Turn, Translocal Memory, Middle East Representation, Judith Thompson, Wajdi Mouawad, Wafaa Bilal.


In Testimonies: Crisis of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History, Shoshana Felman makes the point that a witness is called upon wherever there is crisis of truth and evidence (p. 6). If we migrate with this assumption from the courtroom to the stage, we encounter what Karen Malpede calls "Theatre of Witness" or what Erdmann calls "Theatre of Testimony", which describes many contemporary plays and performances dealing with the representations of the Middle East. This article engages with contemporary theatre’s obsession with remembrance and the way the stage dramatizes the act of "bearing witness" in plays such as Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched, Judith Thompson’s Palace of the End, and in multi-media performances such as Wafaa Bilal’s Shoot an Iraqi, and “…and Counting”. These plays and performances construct memory as a dual process of retrospective spatio-temporal narrative accounts, combined with physically enacted mnemonic flashbacks. This paper argues that the “memorialist turn” in theatre is a process of double disavowal that problematizes the witnessing of trauma and the trauma of witnessing, focusing on how the individual tries to remember or reconstruct what happened in the realm of the “real”, while escaping into the fantastical when the demands of bearing witness become severe. Finally, this paper addresses the modalities of perception of the audience bearing witness to witnessing, arguing that theatre does not construct the real or re-construct it for the audience, on the contrary if estranges it, not unlike Brechtian alienation, revealing an exchange that is both realist and anti-realist, artistic representation and reproduction of actuality, spectacle and mimesis, marking the relationship between the translocal forms of memory and the performative possibility of an aesthetic openness toward otherness.



Biografía del autor/a

Donia Mounsef, University of Alberta

Dr Donia Mounsef is Associate Professor of drama and études théâtrales (at University of Alberta Canada). A performance theorist and dramaturge, she is the author of Chair et révolte dans le théâtre de Bernard-Marie Koltès (l'Harmattan, 2005) and the co-editor of The Transparency of the Text (Yale French Studies, 2007). She publishes widely on theatre and violence, trauma theory, post-dramatic theatre, intermediality, gender, performativity. Her work appeared in Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Esprit Créateur, Yale Journal of Criticism, Women and Performance Journal, Féminismos, etc.

Mai Hussein, University of Alberta

Mai Hussein is a PhD Candidate in French Literature in the Dept. of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies (University of Alberta, Canada). She holds an MA in French from Alexandria University in Egypt. Before starting her PhD, Mai served as the Head of French Translation Department of the Egyptian Customs Authority and the official translator of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina - Arab Academy for Sciences, Technology and Maritime Studies and the Linguistics and Translation Unit of the University of Alexandria. Mai’s research focuses on the theatre of Arab Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad and the question of witnessing, and appropriation.