Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Document Type



This dissertation titled Theatre, Activism, and Pakistan is an intervention for contemporary activist theatre in Pakistan. The dissertation proposes a deconstructed repetition model. The model recommends deconstructing rituals, routines, stories, narratives upon repetition via theatre in order to address local issues and celebrate local culture. This dissertation’s theoretical framework is devised by merging Baz Kershaw’s triad of cultural history, pre-existing metanarrative, and repetition with Augusto Boal’s techniques of spect-acting. The first chapter explores Pakistani theatre and cultural history to figure out stipulations for activist theatre survival in Pakistan. The devised activist model puts forth the following four stipulations in order to then reach the set goals: avoiding the hegemonic voice, making spect-actors see oppression, circumventing commodification without taking element of interest out, and celebrating local culture. The second chapter examines two Pakistani activist plays, Barri (Acquittal) and We shall Resist, and the underlying fundamentalist religious metanarrative to figure out the activist model that can address this unique situation of indirect oppression (while meeting the aforementioned four criteria). The deconstructed repetition model, that deconstructs culture and its metanarratives upon repetition, is an appropriate fit for theatre activism in Pakistan instead of seeking violent revolution, passive subversion, or open-ended activism. After figuring out the stipulations and the suitable model for implementation of those stipulations for social activism in Pakistan, the third chapter studies Augusto Boal and relevant activist theatre practitioners for techniques of the model implementation. The third chapter narrows down the focus on the technique of Story Circle. The final chapter is a report of the project undertaken to test the model. The project report proves the efficacy of the deconstructed repetition model. The conclusion then wraps up the discussion with possible future directions for the model implementation in Pakistan.



Committee Chair

Demastes, William (Bill)



Available for download on Monday, August 20, 2029