Research in African Literatures 30.4 (1999) 219-220
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Theatre Matters: Performance and Culture on the World Stage,ed. Richard Boon and Jane Plastow. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 202 pp.
This book was conceived as a tribute to the work of Martin Banham, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds . He began his academic career in the early fifties at the University of Ibadan and Nigeria remained throughout his life at the center of his scholarly and professional interests. In Britain he established the Workshop Theatre at the University of Leeds and his policy of recruiting students for the MA was very international, which explains the emphasis of the volume. [End Page 219]
Wole Soyinka has contributed a letter from Kingston in which he presents the utility of theater in desperate situations of economic and moral crisis. Unemployed youth of Kingston, another kind of Lagos, found some kind of redemption in participating in a theater project. Femi Osofisan writes a long essay on his poetics: "The Revolution as Muse: Drama as Surreptitious Insurrection in a Postcolonial, Military State" (11-35), dealing with the attempts to involve and conscientize the audience in a performance of his play Once upon Four Robbers: a great achievement for a literary intellectual . . . . Ian Steadman writes on South Africa. Richard Boon and Jakob Skampickal write on popular theater for the building of social awareness in India. The MA in theater studies in Leeds is still alive and well, and that is good news for theater lovers everywhere.
Alain Ricard is with the Centre D'Etudes d'Afrique Noire at the Universities of Bordeaux.