Between Sight and Sound: Framing the Exotic in Roysten Abel's The Manganiyar Seduction
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Roysten Abel’s The Manganiyar Seduction is perhaps the most popular performance of Indian folk music on the global festival market today. This performance of Rajasthani folk music is an apt exemplification of an auto-exoticism framed as cultural commodity. Its mise en scéne of musicians framed, literally, by illuminated red square boxes ‘theatricalises’ Rajasthan’s folk culture of orality and renders such a tradition the quality of strangeness that borders on theatre and music, contemporary and traditional. The ‘dazzling’ union of the Manganiyar’s music and scenography of Amsterdam’s red light district engendered an exotic seduction that garnered raving reviews on its global tour. This paper then examines the production’s performative interstices: the in betweenness of sound and sight where aural tradition is ‘spectacularised’, and the shifting convergences of tradition and cultural consumption. It further interrogates the role of reception in the construction of such ‘exotic’ spectacles.