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Lectures, readings to focus on South Asian diasporic theater

Quantum Theatre and the University of Pittsburgh have united to present a three-day series of lectures, staged readings and conference events that focus on South and Southeast Asian diasporic theater and performance.

Organized by the University of Pittsburgh's Asian Studies Center and its Department of Theatre Arts, under the direction of historian and theater artist Neilesh Bose, "Re-Orienting Asia: Southern Asian Performance Across Frontiers" will be Thursday through May 14 at venues in Oakland.

The mission of the conference is to engage scholars in South Asian studies through interdisciplinary conversations about the role of theater in South Asian diasporas.

But anyone interested in theater, South Asian culture or how artistic perspectives and creativity changes when people settle outside their homelands is welcome to attend.

Two staged readings will highlight the conference:

• Afzal-Khan's two-person play, "Jihad Against Violence," showcases the perspective of contemporary Pakistani-American women on Pakistani politics and Muslim identity. 7 p.m. Thursday.

• "Merchant on Venice" by Shishir Kurup, a co-production of Quantum Theatre and the University of Pittsburgh, is a liberal adaptation of William Shakespeare's play that explores the diasporic condition of South Asian immigrants in Los Angeles. 8 p.m. May 13.

Both plays will be performed in the auditorium of the Frick Fine Arts Building, Schenley Drive, Oakland. Lectures precede each reading.

The May 14 conference events include presentations of original papers on topics such as Kathakali dance in the USA, theater in apartheid South Africa, the history of colonial Indian theater, approaches to the history and politics of Indian dance, and critical appraisals of Peter Brook's 1987 Mahabharata.

Conference events will run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 14 in Pitt's Posvar Hall, Room 4103, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Admission is free.

Details: 412-697-2929 or www.quantumtheatre.com .

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