This essay explores the allusions and illusions of identity construction that are evident in contemporary South African drama. Homann reflects on three political actions that he proposes are the fertile ground from which dramatic characters emerge in post-apartheid South African playwriting. To make his case he draws on what Njabulo Ndebele has called the “them-us” polarity, Derek Hook’s unpacking of the psychoanalytic term restorative nostalgia, and ideas of Rainbow Nation-ism that were solidified through the efforts of Nelson Mandela. Homann aligns these three ideas to contemporary South African drama as a means to test whether we might be able to speak of the formulation of the them-us play, the restorative nostalgia play, and the Rainbow Nation play.
In the years that followed the end of apartheid, South African theatre was characterized by a remarkable productivity, which resulted in a process of constant aesthetic reinvention. After 1994, the “protest” theatre template of the apartheid years morphed into a wealth of diverse forms of stage idioms, detectable in the works of Greg Homann, Mike van Graan, Craig Higginson, Lara Foot, Omphile Molusi, Nadia Davids, Magnet Theatre, Rehane Abrahams, Amy Jephta, and Reza de Wet, to cite only a few prominent examples. Marc and Jessica Maufort’s multivocal edited volume documents some of the various ways in which the “rainbow” nation has forged these innovative stage idioms. This book’s underlying assumption is that creolization reflects the processes of identity renegotiation in contemporary South Africa and their multi-faceted theatrical representations.
Contributors: Veronica Baxter, Marcia Blumberg, Vicki Briault Manus, Petrus du Preez, Paula Fourie, Craig Higginson, Greg Homann, Jessica Maufort, Marc Maufort, Omphile Molusi, Jessica Murray, Jill Planche, Ksenia Robbe, Mathilde Rogez, Chris Thurman, Mike van Graan, and Ralph Yarrow.
In the years that followed the advent of democracy in the new South Africa, initial dreams of harmony gave way to corruption, violence, and poverty instead of completely transcending the painful legacy of apartheid. However, there emerged an attempt to move beyond homogenization in the arts and to stage the full spectrum of colours of the South African nation potentially suggested by the rainbow metaphor. Four significant 21st century plays are placed in conversation in this essay in order to illustrate the creation of what could be called, in an echo of Edouard Glissant’s famous concept, an aesthetic of creolization: Omphile Molusi’s Itsotseng (2006), Greg Homann’s Oedipus@Koö-nú. (2014), Craig Higginson’s The Imagined Land (2015), and Mike van Graan’s When Swallows Cry (2017).
The essays collected here illustrate aspects of recent research conducted by graduate students in Canadian studies at various European universities. The methodological diversity displayed points to the very essence of the culture the contributors explore - what has been commonly termed the Canadian mosaic or, more recently, the Canadian kaleidoscope (Janice Kulyk-Keefer). In analysing the many facets of this mosaic, the numerous images of this kaleidoscope, the contributors offer fresh and youthful reappraisals of traditional visions of Canadianness.