Highbrow Revenge

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For nefarious networking and shameless self-promotion purposes, I found myself at a somewhat strange event this evening. Perhaps I had displeased the deity of higher cultural values with my ramblings yesterday. Perhaps the deity had decided it was time to drag me from my unending diet of drivel and trash.

Regardless of the whys, I ended up diverted from my original plan to see (a) a hilarious French comedic farce on the love lives of a few suburban couples or (b) the latest Hollywood offering to hit French cinemas. Instead, I ended up watching performed extracts of a new translation of the latest play by a Kosovan playwright about Muslim terrorists and a deranged husband who goes around tearing veils off unknown women.

A second performance comprised extracts from a play about four institutionalised women and their self-created alternative realities.

The performances were (I think) followed by a panel ‘discussion’ about the works. I was punch drunk by content at that point, and became so mesmerized by the hand waving and manic gesticulation and hair tossing of all the panellists that I found it hard to concentrate on anything anyone was saying.

Sadly I don’t feel I can give you a focussed analytic artistic evaluation of the evening. But I was surprised by the reaction of the audience to the subject matter of the Kosovan play. They were full of admiration for the author and actors, and described it as courageous. It seems that despite the French government’s attempts to control veil wearing and religious symbolism, the critiquing of Islam, Muslim terrorism and related topics creatively from any angle is paradoxically completely taboo.

I found this hard to believe, but one of the writers in residence was adamant that of 400 texts he had read in the past year, not one touched on these subjects. Given the success of the satirical comedy Four Lions in the UK last year, it is quite odd to think there’s no real equivalent in French contemporary culture.

Anyway, maybe it’ll be a bit of Hollywood for me tomorrow.

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