Säg inte mötesplats! : Teater och integration i ord och handling

Sammanfattning: The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the notion of multiculturalism in relation to theatre and drama. In Swedish public discourse, culture and the arts are frequently referred to as a social glue which keeps society together. In this context theatre holds a particular position. On the one hand theatre is looked upon as a magic key capable of opening up all sorts of discriminatory structures. Theatre, and actors, stereotypically exhibit essential features for achieving success in late modern society. Examples of such features are charisma, creativity, and flexibility. On the other hand theatre, especially theatre as an established institution, is criticised for being discriminatory and conservative. Theatre thus inhabits a position of ambivalence in relation to society at large. It is encouraged, even obliged, by the state to reach out to new audiences beyond that of Swedish-born, middle-class spectators. This is done in several ways; by creating mixed ensembles, with professionals and amateurs, or by producing scripts based on documentary research and “real” stories, told by “real” people. While the work produced within theatre should reflect society, artistic expressiveness is often surreal and fantastic. In this capacity theatre is ascribed an almost “magical” function in moving publics and dissolving unwanted boundaries. The task is twofold. I start by trying to trace and describe systems of values and presuppositions underpinning multicultural theatre projects in Sweden. I then explore how such projects are launched, carried through and realized on a concrete empirical level. The observation was carried out primarily in 2006, in the setting of two theatre projects. One of them was a role play about refugees, A Journey Unlike any Other. The purpose of the project is to make teenagers understanding and sympathetic to the plights of refugees and immigrants. The other one was a version of the classical drama, Hamlet, transposed into a contemporary urban setting as Mohamlet. The play is an attempt to reach a new audience by placing it in a multicultural milieu; a falafel-restaurant reminiscent of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. These two productions are on opposit ends of the wide spectrum of late modern theatre dealing with multicultural topics. Theatre is thus referred to, in one instance, as key, and in another as a closed door. It is at one and the same time portrayed as a solution and as a problem. My aim is to articulate, to illustrate, and to explain this duality and the processes in which it inheres, both within and beyond the confines of theatre performances and settings.

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