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African Drama and Performance

Edited by John Conteh-Morgan and Tejumola Olaniyan

Publication Year: 2004

African Drama and Performance is a collection of innovative and wide-ranging essays that bring conceptually fresh perspectives, from both renowned and emerging voices, to the study of drama, theatre, and performance in Africa. Topics range from studies of major dramatic authors and formal literary dramas to improvisational theatre and popular video films. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are analyzed as a kind of social performance, and aspects of African performance in the diaspora are also considered. This dynamic volume underscores theatre's role in postcolonial society and politics and reexamines performance as a form of high art and everyday social ritual.

Contributors are Akin Adesokan, Daniel Avorgbedor, Karin Barber, Nicholas Brown, Catherine Cole, John Conteh-Morgan, Johannes Fabian, Joachim Fiebach, Marie-José Hourantier, Loren Kruger, Pius Ngandu Nkashama, Isidore Okpewho, Tejumola Olaniyan, Ato Quayson, Sandra L. Richards, Wole Soyinka, Dominic Thomas, and Bob W. White.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-

This volume of essays started life as a special issue of Research in African Literatures that we co-edited in 1999. We wish to thank all the contributors whose essays are reprinted in this book and the new contributors who responded positively and in a timely manner to our invitation for articles, in spite of their busy schedules. We also acknowledge the support of Abiola Irele, then editor of Re-...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

The growth of critical interest in African theatre has been one of the exciting developments in African cultural criticism over the past decade. Valuable book length studies have been published on the subject during this period,1 not to mention reference books wholly or partly devoted to it—The Cambridge Guideto African and Caribbean Theatre (1994) and The Cambridge Guide to Theatre...

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1. King Baabu and the Renaissance Vision

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pp. 11-23

Renaissance is today’s mot courant trickling down the throat of most African leaders. Some of them—a handful, of course—are genuine visionaries. They are frustrated by the negation of what they recognize as the potential of a much-abused continent and see themselves as children of a unique history and agents of change. For the most, however, what is renaissance but just another word,...

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2. Dimensions of Theatricality in Africa

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pp. 24-38

Human behavior (presentation of the self ) and social interrelationships (acting out roles) have been quite often understood in Western cultures, at least since the sixteenth century, as theatrically structured. Given the prevalent assumption that there was a rigid line of demarcation between society as the objective reality and theatre as a subjective, constructed, fictional representation...

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3. Theatre and Anthropology, Theatricality and Culture

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pp. 39-45

I am not a theatregoer. There are years between the plays I occasionally take in because friends take me along. In 1997, during a stay in New York, I didhave what was for me a busy season: in Brooklyn, I saw a Peter Brooks play based on Sacks’s “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.” Then I went to a tripleheader, including a Woody Allen piece, in the Village, and finally there was a...

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4. Pre-Texts and Intermedia: African Theatre and the Question of History

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pp. 46-54

Theatre in Africa is demonstrably a place of greater vitality than other literary forms. It is the locus of dialogic variation. Its vitality derives not only from placing personages on stage but also from locating them in sharply recognizable scenarios that express the struggle for self-actualization and the lived vagaries of experience that breed disillusionment, fear, joy, and terror. And this applies in...

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5. Soyinka, Euripides, and the Anxiety of Empire

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pp. 55-77

The old Aristotelian derivation of the word tragedy as a goat-song was given agraphic endorsement, at the dawn of post colonial African dramatic history, by the Nigerian poet-playwright John Pepper Clark. Newly graduated from University College in Ibadan—a colonial institution where the old European classics were taken quite as seriously as in their home base—Clark produced and...

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6. Antigone in the “Land of the Incorruptible”: Sylvain Bemba’s Noces posthumes de Santigone (Black Wedding Candles for Blessed Antigone)

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pp. 78-87

...[I]n the spasms of the young when faced with the unctuous imperative ofthe old, in the daily rub of Utopian or anarchic impulse against the mildewed surface of “realism” and expedient routine, the Antigone gesture is made, the Antigone is considered a figure of resistance. At the end of the twentieth century, she remains the symbol that is invoked in connection with great...

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7. Gestural Interpretation of the Occult in the Bin Kadi-So Adaptation of Macbeth

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pp. 88-93

The Bin Kadi-So adaptation of Macbeth 1 explores different levels of reality thatlead us to participate in an occult world, where everything occurs in a muted atmosphere and the essentials of action are woven together. In that mysterious universe that tradition reveals to us by facilitating its communication with our plane of existence, we can study the actor’s gestural performance when his or...

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8. Yoruba Gods on the American Stage: August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

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pp. 94-108

Central to Joe Turner’s Come and Gone are elements of memory and desire, bothin terms of characters who are seeking to reorient themselves and in terms of August Wilson’s self-described project of creating a body of plays that will help U.S. African Americans more fully embrace the African side of their “double consciousness” (DuBois 1903, 38). Set in 1911 during the Great Migration,...

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9. Femi Oso

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pp. 109-125

In the plays which I have written onto the bleeding pages of this troubledage, I have sought, advisedly by suggestive tropes, to deny consolation to the manufacturers of our nation’s anomy, and at the same time to stir our people. In Femi Osfisan’s Birthdays Are Not for Dying, Kunle Aremo is heir to a large fortune at the center of which is a business corporation. On his thirtieth birth-...

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10. Revolution and Recidivism: The Problem of Kenyan History in the Plays of Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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pp. 126-143

In a recent essay, “Art War with the State,” Ngugi wa Thiong’o engages in a dia-logue with Brecht’s “The Anxieties of the Regime,” the poem from which theabove fragment is taken. Ngugi, who has been censored, imprisoned, and finally exiled by the Kenyan government, has more right than anybody to pose anewthe question of the “subversive” power of art. This question had begun to seem...

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11. The Politics and Theatre of Sony Labou Tansi

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pp. 144-154

The impoverishment to which many Third World countries have been subjected will have immeasurable consequences for the future of relationsbetween people on our planet. Fewer and fewer people will accept to be insignificant, insulted, ill-considered, disregarded, wretched, exploited. Reason will gradually give way to indiscriminate violence and revolt. Those...

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12. Theatre for Development and TV Nation: Notes on Educational Soap Opera in South Africa

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pp. 155-175

...Development and underdevelopment, or, in the current global vernacular, North and South, are separated not only by residual racial boundaries but also by physical and socioeconomic barriers between rich and poor, especially in Johannesburg...

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13. Literacy, Improvisation, and the Virtual Script in Yoruba Popular Theatre

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pp. 176-188

In Africanist literary criticism, a faint aura of romanticism still lingersaround the notion of “orality.” It is a highly value-charged term, one that canbe accorded almost talismanic authority. Oral modes of expression, underlying and breaking through into anglophone or francophone written texts, are what is said to give such texts their distinctive Africanity. Eileen Julien has brilliantly...

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14. “How They See It”: The Politics and Aesthetics of Nigerian Video Films

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pp. 189-197

The diversification of the media of expression for the Traveling Theater troupes no doubt rejects, among other things, the commodification of popular artistic and cultural expression in order to exploit the cultural and psychological needs of the newly citified masses for entertainment, diversion and KKK is the unselfconscious popular abbreviation of Kodun, Kopo, Kope (Beau-...

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15. Modernity’s Trickster: “Dipping” and “Throwing” in Congolese Popular Dance Music

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pp. 198-218

During a recent trip to Kinshasa, I was surprised to see a high-level ministerin the newly formed Kabila government walking around the airplane shakinghands and chatting with the other passengers. When he approached my seat,I stood up, introduced myself and my wife, and told him I was returning to Kinshasa to continue my research on popular music.1 “Popular music? Wonder-...

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16. Theatres of Truth, Acts of Reconciliation: The TRC in South Africa

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pp. 219-226

The cataclysmic changes South Africa has experienced in the past decade haveriveted the world. Many expected with the formal ending of apartheid in the mid-1990s that the tinderbox created by a racist state, gross economic exploita-tion, and a decades-long history of human rights abuses would ignite into civil conflagration. Although South Africa now has one of the highest crime rates in...

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17. The Turner-Schechner Model of Performance as Social Drama: A Reexamination in Light of Anlo-Ewe Hal

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pp. 227-237

This chapter isolates dramaturgic procedures in Anlo-Ewe hal

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18. Theatricality and Social Mimodrama

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pp. 238-247

Textbook definitions of theatre are often based on “performance” and necessarily limit it to the play. It is therefore appropriate to reflect on the principle of “performance” as the objective and aim of drama. That same definition, however, does not pay sufficient attention to the implications of “scenography.” Unconditional factors deal with the relationship that must be established between...

Bibliography

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pp. 249-268

Contributors

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pp. 269-271

Index

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pp. 273-274


E-ISBN-13: 9780253110909
E-ISBN-10: 0253110904
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253344397

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: A Research in African Literatures Book