The Arab-American Theatre is One of the Popular Performances in American Drama
Artists belong to the most influential individuals of the society. They use art and their talents to educate other members of the society, warn them and criticize social evil. Entertainment has been utilized for years to make the lives of individuals better and to attract their attention to the social injustices. The Arab-American theatre is one of the popular performances in American drama. It has a long history since it was initiated to fight discrimination of Arab-Americans on the basis of culture, identity as well as linguistic heritage. This paper will analyze the history of Arab-American theatre to create awareness of Arab-American films, their motive and how the industry was established.
Arab-Americans are individuals with American nationality, who have Arab ethnicity, identity, linguistic heritage, and culture. They identify themselves as the Arabs. They are Americans who immigrated to the US from countries such as Iraq, Palestine, Somalia and some other countries. Like other Americans, the Arab-Americans have talents and the ability to work in the film industry, and to act in dramas, comedies and other types of performances . The Arab-American theatre was established as the aftermath of numerous cases of prosecution related to the Arab-Americans. The key filmmakers, playwrights, and performers who participated in the Arab-American comedy and film include: Ahamed, Ismail Khalidi, Najla Said, and Heather Raffo. The artists came together and decided to raise their voices against the social evil that was directed to the US citizens of the Arab origin. Their work was an action of response against three key events that had occurred in late 1960.
The first event that made the artists react is the passing of the 1965 immigration act. The act made it possible for Arabs who were highly educated and more diverse religiously to migrate to the US. The second event is the 1967 war between Arabs and Israel. The aftermath of the war led to the development of numerous Arab-American activist organizations that were fighting against Arab discrimination in the academia and media. The third event is the 9/11 that resulted in deportation, detention, formation of black sites, and renditions .
At that moment, the members of the Arab-American community felt totally oppressed since they were not treated equally with other Americans. They were discriminated during recruitment processes in both, government and private organizations. At that moment, actors found out that films were becoming popular among different generations of American citizens. Therefore, they decided to use this opportunity to advocate for the rights of the oppressed minorities. They came up with pan-Arab alliances that were used to criticize the discrimination and demand for equal treatment. It is evident that after the 9/11 event, many members of the Arab-American communities were deported and detained because of their positive contribution in fighting social injustices. The theatre became the most convenient way of communicating the message and reaching a big population.
The theatre served as a weapon of fighting social injustices. On the other hand, the artists became popular and their art was appreciated all over the world. It turned out to be an introduction of a new form of theatre performance that was based on the theatrical traditions, dance and music related to the Arab-American community. The initial aim of establishing the Arab-American theatre was political. Later, it developed to be ethnic construction that strengthens the cultures of the members of the Arab-American communities. The rise of artists and the popularity of Arab-American films attracted the attention of the society to the discrimination issue. It made activists and human right associations criticize the issue and stop the prosecution.
It made the artists to introduce new themes such as the theme of love to divert the main aim of the Arab-American theatre and portray a new picture of the Arab-American communities. Although the pioneers of the Arab-American theatre aimed at using members of their communities in their actions, they got support from a number of Americans both inborn and African-Americans who were against the discrimination . The Arab-American theatre took the form of a forum theatre, since in most of the dramas of the theater, they made the audience to participate; the intention of establishing a forum theatre was to create a smooth way of making the audience understand the conflict, resolve social tension, and ensure that there is a direct communication of the challenging issues.
To sum up, the Arab-American theatre was started by bitter members of the society who were oppressed and not comfortable with the social injustices of the time. They came up with the idea of changing the hearts of people, their mind, and the policies that allowed discrimination. The fact that the theater became popular made the authorities to take into consideration their grievances and recommended changes. The theater’s popularity enabled it to acquire support from all parts of the world. It was a factor that made the artists change from the political goal and adopt other goals. They adopted other goals such as educating people, entertaining them, and calling for unity. Since the establishment of the theater, it have attracted many actors and produced different interesting films that educate people about the Arab-American culture and the importance of social unity. The initial perception that the Americans had about Arab-American being associates and supporters of terrorism have faded out in the brains of the Americans. Arab-Americans and Arabs are today represented in televisions and Hollywood films without biases or discrimination. It is an industry that educates, promotes economic development and diversity in America.
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