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New Territories

Theatre, Drama, and Performance in Post-apartheid South Africa


Edited By Greg Homann and Marc Maufort

South African theatre, drama, and performance is a vibrant and rapidly developing area of contemporary theatre studies. In this critical anthology of essays and interviews, some of the world’s most respected scholars and practitioners writing and working in the area of South African theatre today share their detailed examinations and insights on the complex and contradictory context of post-apartheid society. Loosely grouped into the categories of Theatre, Drama, and Performance, the essays collected here offer a sampling of work being staged, produced, and written in the country today. The contributors document, contrast, and analyse significant case studies, representing examples from site-specific performance to new South African plays, from traditional indigenous performance practice to the reimagining of Western classics. The anthology takes the year of South Africa’s first democratic election, 1994, as its departure point and includes a broad range of topics that capture the current paradigm.
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New Territories: Exploring the Post-apartheid Stage



In 1997 South African theatre historian, Temple Hauptfleisch, published a study entitled Theatre & Society in South Africa: Reflections in a Fractured Mirror. This was a culmination of roughly twenty years of his scholarship. In it, his broad approach to South African theatre studies strengthened the base from which more specialized studies would follow.

Hauptfleisch named eight forms of South African theatre, recognising traditional practices such as cultural initiation ceremonies, storytelling around a fire, and outdoor church services alongside dramas, plays, and workshopped theatre productions. His aim was to highlight a conversation that challenged conventional ways of studying theatre and that could readdress Western notions of the canon which informed the bias that was, and still is, evident in the study of South African theatre. In the preface to the book he stated:

An area not dealt with much is that of the theatre as system – the network of related and interrelating processes involved in eventually staging a play. Yet changes in the system of theatremaking, as well as changing concepts about such a system, may actually change one’s concepts of theatre itself and more specifically about the way one views theatre history. What we really need, of course, is a comprehensive new history of theatre in South Africa, but perhaps our theoretical perspectives are still heavily loaded into what one might call colonial thinking. Or into some other (equally dated) paradigm, discourse or ideology. (vi)

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