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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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The (New) Playwrights of the (New) Revolution



The New School, New York


Karl Marx and Frederick Engels are perhaps immediately remembered for their apocalyptic lectures and writings on the perils of a world ruled by capitalists. What is perhaps less memorable are their ideas on the role of art in the struggle between the classes in society. Briefly put, they viewed art as an “important weapon in the ideological struggle between classes,” a kind of double-edged sword that “could reinforce just as it could undermine the power of the exploiters” (Krylov). One can certainly see examples of this in European classical music history, where music was either composed for the church or for royalty to exalt those entities’ status in society; or composed for the proletariat to denigrate, ridicule and expose, certainly in the comic tradition of opera buffa, the hypocrisy of the ruling class.

In South Africa, the arts were not always viewed as a helpful weapon in the fight against the apartheid regime. The late Joe Slovo, once a leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and a prominent member of the African National Congress, said: “The radicalizing role of drama or any other art in a society is negligible. Change comes through human action informed by political awareness and exacerbated by intolerable humiliation, suppression and depression” (Nkosi qtd. in Kavanagh). He wasn’t wrong about the instigators of “change”; humiliation, suppression and depression could certainly inspire many to demand change. But,...

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