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Editor: Kene Igweonu
Trends in Twenty-First Century African Theatre and Performance is a collection of regionally focused articles on African theatre and performance. The volume provides a broad exploration of the current state of African theatre and performance and considers the directions they are taking in the 21st Century. It contains sections on current trends in theatre and performance studies, on applied/community theatre and on playwrights. The chapters have evolved out of a working group process, in which papers were submitted to peer-group scrutiny over a period of four years, at four international conferences. The book will be particularly useful as a key text for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in non-western theatre and performance (where this includes African theatre and performance), and would be a very useful resource for theatre scholars and anyone interested in African performance forms and cultures.
Discourses, Strategies, and Power in the Yorùbá Play of Transformation
A poetic ‘voice’ scans the rhythm of academic research, telling of the encounter with odún; then the voice falls silent. What is then raised is the dust of a forgotten academic debate on the nature of theatre and drama, and the following divergent standpoints of critical discourses bent on empowering their own vision, and defining themselves, rather, as counterdiscourses. This, the first part of the book: a metacritical discourse, on the geopolitics (the inherent power imbalances) of academic writing and its effects on odún, the performances dedicated to the gods, ancestors, and heroes of Yorùbá history.
But odún: where is it? and what is it? And the ‘voice’? The many critical discourses have not really answered these questions. In effect, odún is many things. To enable the reader to see these, the study proceeds with an ‘intermezzo’: a frame of reference that sets odún, the festival, in its own historico-cultural ecoenvironment, identifying the strategies that inform the performance and constitute its aesthetic. It is a ‘classical’ yet, for odún, an innovative procedure. This interdisciplinary background equips the reader with the knowledge necessary to watch the performance, to witness its beauty, and to understand the ‘half words’ odún utters.
And now the performance can begin. The ‘voice’ emerges one last time, to introduce the second section, which presents two case studies. The reader is led, day by day, through the celebrations – odún edì, Morèmi’s story, and its realization in performance; then confrontation by the masks of the ancestors duing odún egúngún (particularly as held in Ibadan). The meaning of odún becomes clearer and clearer.
Odún is poetry, dances, masks, food, prayer. It is play ( eré) and belief ( ìgbàgbó). It is interaction between the players (both performers and spectators). It is also politics and power. It contains secrets and sacrifices. It is a reality with its own dimension and, above all, as the quintessential site of knowledge, it possesses the power to transform. In short, it is a challenge – a challenge that the present book and its voices take up.
The Political Voice in the Early Plays of Aphra Behn
Of Love and War: The Political Voice in the Early Plays of Aphra Behn is a study which situates Behn’s early plays within their historical and political context. Behn (c.1640-1689), the first professional female playwright in England, is a fascinating study, having traveled to Surinam as a young woman, served as a spy for Charles II, and evidently supported her family through her writing, including plays, poetry, fiction, and translation.
Her early plays have often been dismissed as romances, largely because they treat such social and/or gender issues as forced marriage and female desire. This study argues that these same social issues frequently serve as tropes for political commentary and propaganda in support of foreign and domestic policies. Behn’s plays clearly demonstrate staunch loyalist support of the Stuart government, yet within the dramatic construction, she—like her contemporary male colleagues, offers fascinating covert political criticism.
Apartheid and Beyond in South African Literature
Over the past fifty years transformations of great moment have taken place in South Africa. Apartheid and the subsequent transition to a democratic, non-racial society in particular have exercised a profound effect on the practice of literature.
This study traces the development of literature under apartheid, then seeks to identify the ways in which writers and theatre practitioners are now facing the challenges of a new social order.
The main focus is on the work of black writers, prime among them Matsemela Manaka, Mtutuzeli Matshoba and Richard Rive, who, as politically committed members of the oppressed majority, bore witness to the “black experience” through their writing. Despite the draconian censorship system they were able to address the social problems caused by racial discrimination in all areas of life, particularly through forced removals, the migrant labour system, and the creation of the homelands. Their writing may be read both as a comprehensive record of everyday life under apartheid and as an alternative cultural history of South Africa.
Particular attention is paid to theatre as a barometer of social change in South Africa.
The concluding chapters consider how in the current period of transition writers and arts institutions have set about reassessing their priorities, redefining their function and seeking new aesthetic directions in taking up the challenge of imagining a new society.
Editor: Michael McAteer
Silence in Modern Irish Literature is the first book to focus exclusively on the treatment of silence in modern Irish literature. It reveals the wide spectrum of meanings that silence carries in modern Irish literature: a mark of historical loss, a form of resistance to authority, a force of social oppression, a testimony to the unspeakable, an expression of desire, a style of contemplation. This volume addresses silence in psychological, ethical, topographical, spiritual and aesthetic terms in works by a range of major authors including Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Bowen and Friel.
After Beckett / D’après Beckett (edited by Anthony Uhlmann / Sydney; Sjef Houppermans / Leiden and Bruno Clément / Paris) constitutes a collection of over 40 articles selected from contributions to the Sydney Symposium of January 2003 that – as a part of an International Sydney Festival – was one of the major events related to Samuel Beckett of the last decade.
The three sections of the book reflect the most vibrant fields of research in Beckett studies today: “Intertextuality and Theory”, “Philosophy and Theory” and “Textual Genesis, Contextual Genesis and Language”. Scholars from all over the world participating in this collection testify to the durable and universal nature of interest in Beckett’s work.

After Beckett / D’après Beckett (édité par Anthony Uhlmann / Sydney; Sjef Houppermans / Leiden et Bruno Clément / Paris) constitue une collection de plus de 40 articles présentant une sélection parmi les contributions au Colloque International de Sydney qui a eu lieu en janvier 2003 dans le cadre du Festival International de Sydney. Cette réunion a été l’un des événements majeurs de ce début du troisième millénaire pour ce qui concerne les études beckettiennes.
Les trois sections du recueil reflètent les champs d’intérêt les plus importants de la critique beckettienne actuelle: “Intertextualité et confluence”, “Philosophie et Théorie” et “Genèse textuelle, Genèse contextuelle et Langage”. Des universitaires du monde entier ont participé à ce livre et témoignent ainsi de l’intérêt universel et durable de l’œuvre de Samuel Beckett
Contemporary Ghanaian Literature, Theatre and Film
Editors: Kofi Anyidoho and James Gibbs
The Market Theatre, Johannesburg. Revised and updated edition
The relationship between Johannesburg’s Market Theatre and the economic and political forces of South Africa's apartheid regime was both complex and somewhat ambiguous. The theatre's two founders, Mannie Manim and Barney Simon, however, from idealistic beginnings managed to steer their experimental enterprise around pitfalls ranging from censorship, boycotts and recuperation by big business to the difficulties encountered in finding black authors, let alone black audiences.
If the place occupied by the Market institution in apartheid society is emphasized throughout the present study, its contribution to the aesthetic of resistance is also underlined through detailed criticism of the plays and authors dominating the theatre. Pieter-Dirk Uys, Barney Simon's workshop plays and, among others, Black Consciousness plays are subjected to various methods of theatre performance analysis. The reckoning that had to come in the early 1990s revealed itself as globally positive; the reasons for this may be found in the updated concluding part of Playing the Market, which is composed of more general essays (including one on the vibrant Junction Avenue Theatre Company) on how the theatre scene in contemporary South Africa started to change. A postscript reveals more specific aspects of the Market situation in the late 1990s when its hegemony in the New South Africa was already being questioned.