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Connecting Faith through Theatre: Barazan’yee as a Semi-Ritual Performance in Thai Muslim Communities

posted on 2021-06-15, 12:16 authored by Khalid Midam
This research paper examines the creative process used to connect young Muslims with their experience, their faith, and their community through a community-based
performance. It also stresses the different levels of connections that resulted from the performance itself. The author sought to reconnect Barazan’yee, an important Arabic poetic chant, to people in the Bangkok Islamic community using tools from community theatre. Participants were Anasyid singers from a local Islamic school in Bangkok who can control their voices well. Their skills allowed the researcher and his team to utilize their vocal talents in a live performance setting which would embody and represent the diversity of their Muslim lives using the tools of story-theatre. The performance design process allowed them to tell their own story in relation to Bar’zanyee poetry in ways that are meaningful to them and their community, thus connecting their lives to the life of Prophet Muhammad. Developed in three phases, the project evolved
between June 2017 and May 2018. The first performance was in a public theatre in March 2018. It resulted in a shift in structure and participation choices for audience in the second performance at a public theatre in April 2018. The article shows that although both performances were conducted in a semi-ritualized environment of the Muslim community, the later better engaged both the performers and audience. The performers directly engaged the audience and invited them to take part in the performance. This research helped the author discover how this type of performance
could be used as a tool to not only connect Muslims to their faith, but also to allow Muslims and non-Muslims experience Muslim life and directly understand more about the Islamic culture.