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New Territories

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

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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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Laws of Recall: Body, Memory and Site-Specific Performance in Contemporary South Africa

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Jay PATHER

University of Cape Town

Introduction

As a South African choreographer, it has not been difficult for me to draw connections between a social and political context and such formal choreographic principles as proxemics, kinesics, cellular memory and sentience, both during and after apartheid. Beyond fulfilling a pressing need to give shape, orientation and outlet to a pervasive sense of annihilation and bewilderment, the seductive language of choreography with all its choreographic markers – the possibilities for a range of textured, expressive spatialities in composition, of multiple approaches to rhythm that resonate with discord, interruption, silence and defiance and ultimately the body itself, its flesh, skin and muscle as a site on which to write meanings beyond the linguistic – complements complex and what appears as overpowering political contexts.

When I made the dance theatre works Testimonies (1997), Laws of Recall (2000) and Forked Tongues (2001), all directly dealing with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I touched on what was going to be a perennial and recurrent theme in much of the work that followed: finding access to and expression for the elusive, interrupted processes of recall. I was interested in our obsession, as South Africans, with acts of remembrance and with the relationship of theatrical representation of this backward looking, subjective, inchoate state to the present. This article then is a critique of this impulse to enliven memory, embodied as memorial and archive within the context of South Africa’s tumultuous...

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