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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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Claiming Western Texts for Contemporary South African Theatre: Issues of Relevance and the Dead-end Pursuit of National Identity


← 104 | 105 → Claiming Western Texts for Contemporary South African Theatre

Issues of Relevance and the Dead-end Pursuit of National Identity


The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance (AFDA)

“…we may be enabled to see how what we have come to accept, unquestioningly, as ‘our’ identity, ‘our’ tradition, ‘our’ cultural essence have in reality been formed through interaction with others, since ‘it is the case that no identity can ever exist by itself and without an array of opposite, negatives, oppositions.’”

Edward Said cited in Crow & Banfield (168-69)

In the first decade of democracy, South Africa’s cultural diversity, together with the excitement of an emerging sense of national identity and nationhood, presented a dilemma. Under spatial, linguistic, cultural, and ideological divides, and, as a result, in a context where multiple value systems played out on the same stage, the theatrical mise en scène could not be decoded from a single cultural point of view.

In the continuing transition from apartheid to a mature democratic state, there is a tension in trying to define a local culture. Patrice Pavis defines this kind of tension as an intracultural concern, where “the traditions of a single nation, which are often almost forgotten or deformed, have to be reconstructed” (20). This has particular significance within the context of post-apartheid South Africa where there are attempts to deal with a deformed past. However, equally...

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