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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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Ubizo – Voices of elok’shini: Listening Afresh to Theatre Voices from Cape Town’s Townships


← 22 | 23 → Ubizo – Voices of elok’shini

Listening Afresh to Theatre Voices from Cape Town’s Townships1


University of Cape Town

In order to leverage recognition within theatre and performance studies for theatre originating from Cape Town’s townships, this essay interrogates dominant understandings of theatre and performance. The investigation is undertaken in three movements. First the historical trajectory of theatre and performance studies in South Africa is shortly surveyed in order to consider how theatre from the townships has been, and could be, examined. Secondly, moving from theoretical to empirical research, the practice of theatre in selected Black townships in Cape Town is surveyed. The context of its origins, the systems and institutions on which it draws, the plots it portrays and its cast of characters, are touched upon. Thirdly, I make claims for the significance of theatre in the townships on the basis of the research that I have conducted to date, which I have analysed according to the proposals outlined in the first section of this chapter.2 I posit aspects of the practice which are distinctive, and hence significant, to our understanding of Southern African theatre and performance studies.

This chapter indubitably raises more questions than it answers. It does not examine particular plays or performances in any depth. It does not examine the township environment and its lively performance-based culture, both of which fundamentally affect the practice of theatre-making. ← 23 | 24 → It does not focus on the...

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