Performing the Collective: Al-Hakawati and Beyond
Collective identitiy
contemporary folklore
artists from the middle class
arts in Jerusalem
performance in Palestine

The performance experience of theatre and dance has reflected the Palestinian sociocultural situation under colonialism for decades. The early contribution of al-Hakawati theatre troupe to the Palestinian performance renaissance invites examination of how it promoted the centrality of Jerusalem and was the means for discourses about various collectivities in Palestinian society, the societal, religious, and gender discussions within the Palestinian communities. It examines how this discussion influenced parallel performance endeavors in other Palestinian locations concerning social constructs such as class. By comparing the experiences of two generations of Palestinian performers, this essay argues that if national and religious collective identities constantly challenged a gendered one, some tactical initiatives by performing artists encouraged practices towards gender equality within Palestinian society.

Author biography: 

Ruba Totah is a PhD candidate at the University of Mainz, Germany, researching transnational cultural experiences of Arab artists in Europe. She has previously conducted research on Palestinian performing arts and social change.