M. J. C. Echeruo's sober appraisal of the dramatic limits of Igbo ritual in 1971 had generated quite some spirited critical debate on the nature of Igbo/African theater. Pointing to the distinctive Eurocentrism of the Greek model privileged by Echeruo as the viable universal paradigm for the evolution of ritual into drama, several other Igbo scholars had sternly rebuked him for an alleged failure to recognize cultural distinctions in the dramatic form and consequently for the failure to advocate a culture-authenticating notion of drama. Esiaba Irobi's drama since the 1900s has re-opened this debate and, moreover, virtually constitutes a demonstration piece of Echeruo's postulations. Advancing insights deriving from Soyinka's formulation rooted in Yoruba theater, Irobi makes the theatrical basis of his truly challenging corpus the dramaturgy of demonstrable Igbo ritual performances. In his iconoclastic recuperation of Igbo myths and expansion of ritual to facilitate secular projects in a contemporary postcolonial society, Irobi constantly sets in relief a specifically Igbo theater/tragedy as well as foregrounds his audacious innovativeness.


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pp. 87-114
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