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The Politics of Adaptation

Contemporary African Drama and Greek Tragedy


Astrid Van Weyenberg

This book explores contemporary African adaptations of classical Greek tragedies. Six South African and Nigerian dramatic texts – by Yael Farber, Mark Fleishman, Athol Fugard, Femi Osofisan, and Wole Soyinka – are analysed through the thematic lens of resistance, revolution, reconciliation, and mourning.
The opening chapters focus on plays that mobilize Greek tragedy to inspire political change, discussing how Sophocles’ heroine Antigone is reconfigured as a freedom fighter and how Euripides’ Dionysos is transformed into a revolutionary leader.
The later chapters shift the focus to plays that explore the costs and consequences of political change, examining how the cycle of violence dramatized in Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy acquires relevance in post-apartheid South Africa, and how the mourning of Euripides’ Trojan Women resonates in and beyond Nigeria.
Throughout, the emphasis is on how playwrights, through adaptation, perform a cultural politics directed at the Europe that has traditionally considered ancient Greece as its property, foundation, and legitimization. Van Weyenberg additionally discusses how contemporary African reworkings of Greek tragedies invite us to reconsider how we think about the genre of tragedy and about the cultural process of adaptation.
Against George Steiner’s famous claim that tragedy has died, this book demonstrates that Greek tragedy holds relevance today. But it also reveals that adaptations do more than simply keeping the texts they draw on alive: through adaptation, playwrights open up a space for politics. In this dynamic between adaptation and pre-text, the politics of adaptation is performed.

Stephen David

ahistorical thrust of the proclamation, former Biafrans lost their claim to victimhood (as the vanquished) and with it the opportunity to mourn their loss which could have started a journey of real reconciliation and reintegration. As I will argue, there was no return for these Biafrans to their prelapsarian

Witnessing the Ruins of Apartheid

The Women’s Jail (Johannesburg) as a Site of Encounter

Marie Kruger

and hence a deliberate reflection of the country’s foundational myth “that debate, reason, interaction, negotiation, and reconciliation will make the future happen.” 17 That such negotiations often lead to controversial decisions became apparent during the early stages of the spatial reconstruction

Annie Gagiano

experiences, retains humanity and a capacity for devotion. Movingly, Owuor depicts a reconciliation between Nyipir and his torturer, Petrus Keah, the “intelligence man” who had attempted to save Nyipir’s son’s life and comes to commiserate with the grieving father. At the burial, when Nyipir’s “questions

Separating the Magical from the Real

The Representation of the Barwa in Zakes Mda’s She Plays with the Darkness

Michael Wessels

with the hens also suggests hope for future reconciliation between the domestic sphere of the Basotho village and the creative, communal world represented by the “wild” Barwa as well as hope for the success of the democracy emerging in adjacent South Africa out of the ruins of apartheid