A performance of Tibetan music and dance by the nuns of Khachoe Ghakyil Ling nunnery at the American Museum of Natural History invites a comparison between this event and a theatrical production about Tibet by the French theatre company Theatre du Soleil. Although the political plight of the Tibetan people shapes the daily lives of the nuns, it is not overtly addressed in their performance, which sets the viewer up as a removed observer of Tibetan culture. The Theatre du Soleil's production, by contrast, foregrounds the political issues and involves the audience on every level in a cultural exchange that is, nonetheless, fictional. The comparison addresses questions of cultural authenticity, the ability of performance to bring the spectator to political engagement, and the relative contributions of cultural performance on the one hand and theatre on the other.


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pp. 212-230
Launched on MUSE
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