Palestinian stand-up comedy: Moments of collective resistance and joy

Conference paper


Beale, S. 2023. Palestinian stand-up comedy: Moments of collective resistance and joy. Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference 2023. Leeds, UK 30 Aug - 01 Sep 2023
TypeConference paper
TitlePalestinian stand-up comedy: Moments of collective resistance and joy
AuthorsBeale, S.
Abstract

This paper explores the potential and limits of Palestinian stand-up comedy as autobiographical and collective storytelling, reflecting on an intercultural collaborative performance project in the region, May-August 2022. Six Palestinian performers and a UK academic/director worked together to devise a 90-minute comedy show – Balad (homeland; community; local) - which toured six cities and facilitated comedy workshops for Palestinians in local community spaces, women's centres and refugee camps.

The paper considers the potency of stand-up comedy in this context and its impacts on performers, audiences, and workshop participants. Working in translation and finding ways to creatively navigate language boundaries, the project blended ‘western’ stand-up approaches with traditional Palestinian storytelling techniques. This resulted in the evolution of a distinctively Palestinian, collective comic performance style which tests the boundaries of the stand-up form and explores the possibilities of comedy in the margins.

Given the limits on Palestinians’ freedom of movement under occupation, they are routinely separated from each other and the rest of the world by physical, political, and cultural borders. The project sought to bridge these gaps by touring throughout the region and enabling the comedians to share their stories with audiences who are often unfamiliar with each other’s situations and have little experience of live stand-up comedy.

A priority for the performers as they established their comic voices and devised material tackling sometimes challenging subjects as comedy, was a shared desire to dismantle limiting perceptions of Palestinians and prevalent myths – emerging from both within and outside the region – about their lives under occupation. This resulted in a combination of autobiographical stand-up and collaborative comedy performances, creating moments of collective resistance and joy, and exploring and testing the boundaries of comic licence for their own communities.

Keywordsstand-up comedy; applied performance; Palestine
Sustainable Development Goals10 Reduced inequalities
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
LanguageEnglish
ConferenceTheatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted06 May 2023
Completed30 Aug 2023
Deposited13 Oct 2023
Output statusPublished
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https://repository.mdx.ac.uk/item/v71zw

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