- Purchase/rental options available:
This essay uses the concept of g/locality to refine the overbroad application of the Global South to explore links between performance in Chicago, whose racial segregation prompted anti-apartheid South African exiles in the 1980s to call the city "Johannesburg by the Lake," and Johannesburg, whose combination of innovation and lawlessness has inspired writers from the 1950s to the present to dub the storied inner-city district Sophiatown the "Chicago of Johannesburg." Treating these points of comparison between Chicago and Johannesburg with due acknowledgment of the significant differences between the United States and South Africa, the essay argues that the persistence of structural racial and economic violence—violence embedded in institutions and practices—in and around Black communities despite elite claims for progressive improvements merits attention. This injustice and ongoing discrimination between affluent and deprived groups within one country or even one city has prompted activist, analytical, and theatrical responses that link, directly or indirectly, representations in South Africa and in African America. The essay will therefore lay out the contexts, past and present, of explicit as well as implied links between Chicago and Johannesburg, onstage and elsewhere, before turning to two recent plays, Exit Strategy (2014) by Ike Holter in Chicago and The Man in the Green Jacket (2013) by Eliot Moleba in Johannesburg, which highlight the shared interest by South Africans and African Americans in challenging economic injustice and structural violence wrought as much by capital speculation as by outright racism, and their impact on individuals and communities shaped the glocal pull of affluent urban centers.