On Friday, December 3rd, 2021, Haigazian University hosted Prof. Bryan Reynolds in a talk entitled “What’s an Artist to Do?: Performing Arts for Change in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia”, in the University’s Media Center. The event was attended by the Cultural Attaché of US Embassy, Ms. Hermila Yifter, the President of the University, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Arda Ekmekji, and a number of students.
Introduced to the audience by Faculty Member, Dr. Joseph Al Agha, Prof. Bryan Reynolds is a Claire Trevor Professor of Drama at the UC Irvine. A prolific author, playwright, director, performer, and cofounder and artistic director of the Amsterdam-based Transversal Theater Company, Reynolds’ research spans several disciplines, such as critical theory, history, performance studies, social semiotics, philosophy, cognitive neuroscience, dramatic literature, and African and Middle Eastern studies, focusing mainly on the experience, articulation, and performance of consciousness, subjectivity, affects, and sociocultural formations, particularly the ideologies, politics, passions, and geographies that define them, both on and off the stage.
In his insightful talk, Reynolds explained how art and political action have intermeshed for millennia, with their analysis playing as a cornerstone for the development of critical theory and then cultural studies.
Giving the example of Africa and the Middle East, where advanced forms of communications technologies coexist with extreme poverty, the still strong traditional modes of public communication and artistic representation, protest, activist and/or political art remain among the most powerful weapons available to citizens struggling against politically and socially oppressive and/or economically exploitative systems, said Reynolds.
Reynolds also shared some of his experiences making political performing arts or “performance activism” with collaborators at various sites in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia over the last 10 years, in addition to his ongoing research with Mark LeVine on performance activism worldwide.
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