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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.
One of the most striking features of cultural life in South Africa has been the extent to which one area of cultural practice - theatre - has more than any other testified to the present condition of the country, now in transition between its colonial past and a decolonized future. But in what sense and how far does the critical force of theatre in South Africa as a mode of intervention continue?
In the immediate post-election moment, theatre seemed to be pursuing an escapist, nostalgic route, relieved of its historical burden of protest and opposition. But, as the contributors to this volume show, new voices have been emerging, and a more complex politics of the theatre, involving feminist and gay initiatives, physical theatre, festival theatre and theatre-for-education, has become apparent.
Both new and familiar players in South African theatre studies from around the world here respond to or anticipate the altered conditions of the country, while exploring the notion that theatre continues to 'intervene.' This broad focus enables a wide and stimulating range of approaches: contributors examine strategies of intervention among audiences, theatres, established and fledgling writers, canonical and new texts, traditional and innovative critical perspectives. The book concludes with four recent interviews with influential practitioners about the meaning and future of theatre in South Africa: Athol Fugard, Fatima Dike, Reza de Wet, and Janet Suzman.
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.
History, Myth and Politics in Anglo-Irish Drama
Most of the essays in Ritual Remembering: History, Myth and Politics in Anglo-Irish Drama, in part or in whole, frequently allude or directly concern themselves with the dramatic representation of the opposition or the collusion of myth and history, and the uses and abuses of both. Equally they celebrate and critically analyse the politics of the social conscience and social consciousness which pervades Irish drama in its rituals of forgetfulness and memory. Perhaps myth is above all to be understood as the conscience and consciousness of history; and politics is the projection of that myth into present social action - on the hustings (nowadays more frequently the television hustings), at the ballot box, in writing and on the stage. Most of the articles in this volume revolve around these gravely portentous and ambivalent themes, which nobody who is as much concerned with Anglo-Irish relations as with Anglo-Irish literature can disregard or evade.