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Istijmam, an Algerian theater troupe selected to tour the United States in 2016 by the Center Stage program of the US State Department, sought to recreate for US audiences an experience of halqa, a traditional North African storytelling performance. Algerian playwrights had been experimenting with the halqa since the 1960s, putting it in dialogue with Brechtian styles of acting. Istijmam went further, attempting to recreate an embodied experience of it via a new mise-en- scène and a form of physical theater inspired by Grotowski. Previous analyses have focused on the discursive organization of a halqa-style play, but this article considers the halqa in terms of its mise-en-scène and its embodied materiality. The article links to a US performance of the play on YouTube.




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