The Qibla—a never-ending story of migration, runaway, and pilgrimage

Tsu Chung Su*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Qibla, written by the female playwright Wan-Ting Shen, is the title of the Best Play of the 2015 Taiwan Literature Award. This play, directed by Dong-Ning Hsieh, Artistic Director of Voleur du Feu Theatre, had its premiere in 2017. In her play, Shen portrays the interaction between a live-in foreign caregiver called Nadie and a Granny who suffers from Alzheimer and lives in the countryside. The purpose of this paper is to examine the three major motifs ─ migration, runaway, and pilgrimage ─ that are central to the play’s textuality and theatricality. The script and performance analysis of The Qibla are highlighted while a socio-economic and political background regarding the foreign migrant workers is provided so as to give the play a proper context. Since the three main characters, Nadie, Granny, and V-Rod, are all female subalterns who live on the margin of a society called the ‘Ocean State,’ this paper attempts to employ an anti-essentialist viewpoint derived from subaltern studies to investigate the social and biopolitical issues exposed in the play. In conjunction with this viewpoint, this paper intends to adopt the Brechtian reading to interrogate Hsieh’s directing approach and Shen’s dramaturgy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-88
Number of pages21
JournalStudies in Theatre and Performance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • The qibla
  • foreign migrant worker
  • migration
  • nyai roro kidul
  • pilgrimage
  • runaway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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