Theatre, Drama, and Performance in Post-apartheid South Africa
Edited By Greg Homann and Marc Maufort
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,...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.