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African Theatre 12: Shakespeare in and out of Africa

African Theatre 12: Shakespeare in and out of Africa

Volume Editor Jane Plastow
Reviews Editor Martin Banham
Series: African Theatre
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    African Theatre 12: Shakespeare in and out of Africa
    Book Description:

    This volume takes as its starting point an interrogation of the African contributions to the Globe to Globe festival staged in London in 2012, where 37 Shakespeare productions were offered, each from a different nation. Five African companies were invited to perform and there are articles on four of these productions, examining issues of interculturalism, postcolonialism, language, interpretation and reception. The contributors are both Shakespeare and African theatre scholars, promoting discourse from a range of geographical and cultural perspectives. A critical debate about the process of the Globe to Globe festival is initiated in the form of a discussion article featuring some of its directors and actors. Two further articles look at Shakespeare productions made purely for Africa, from Mauritius and Cape Verde, and leading Nigerian playwright and cultural commentator Femi Osofisan provides an overview article examining Shakespeare in Africa in the 21st century. The playscript in this volume of African Theatre is Femi Osofisan's Wesoo, Hamlet! or the Resurrection of Hamlet. Volume Editor: JANE PLASTOW Series Editors: Martin Banham, Emeritus Professor of Drama & Theatre Studies, University of Leeds; James Gibbs, Senior Visiting Research Fellow, University of the West of England; Femi Osofisan, Professor of Drama at the University of Ibadan; Jane Plastow, Professor of African Theatre, University of Leeds; Yvette Hutchison, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre & Performance Studies, University of Warwick

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-195-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. x-xiv)

    For Shakespeare, Africa was a place at the far end of imagination where men might grow into devils, freakish monstrosities or flawed and noble heroes, and the land was a space of wonder and magical beauty.¹ In the nineteenth century missionaries sought to use Shakespeare as part of the ‘civilising mission’ and as one of Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s ‘cultural bombs’,² to teach English and inculcate an idea of the superiority of English culture. However, in the process, generations of Africans came to ‘own’ Shakespeare as part of their hybrid consciousness. Consequently Shakespeare was appropriated. His imagined spaces – ‘fair Verona’, and...

  5. Shakespeare, Africa & the Globe Olympiad
    (pp. 1-12)

    The May 2012 Globe to Globe festival was energetically promoted. The organisers put out an announcement in which they proclaimed:

    …the wild journeys of [Shakespeare’s] plays, first travelled in English, soon multiplied into many fresh journeys, in a whole host of different tongues. We are bringing together artists from all over the globe, to enjoy speaking these plays in their own language, in our Globe, within the architecture Shakespeare wrote for…

    In excited tones, they continued:

    Many of the world’s greatest directors, over six hundred actors from all nations, and audiences from every corner of our polyglot community, will assemble...

  6. The Two Gentlemen of Zimbabwe & their Diaspora Audience at Shakespeare’s Globe
    (pp. 13-27)

    The trapdoor of the empty Globe stage lifted a fraction and Denton Chikura’s head looked out, wide-eyed in wonder. Chikura flung the trap door open with a crash and the audience hushed in expectation. He gazed around in silent consternation at the visible Globe audience. Open-mouthed, he let out a high-pitched, aspirated ‘Ah’ of amazement. Slowly he began climbing out of the trapdoor, carrying something. He had one end of a large and battered blue trunk and as he manoeuvred it out of the trap, another head appeared and the other door of the trap banged open. Tonderai Munyevu clutched...

  7. Shakespeare’s African Nostos Township nostalgia & South African performance at sea
    (pp. 28-47)

    The opening act of the Globe to Globe festival, a South African adaptation ofVenus and Adonis, the long narrative poem that first earned ‘honey-tongued’ Shakespeare his fame, exceeded in several respects the festival’s exacting rubric of ‘37 plays, 37 languages’.¹ Created and performed by the Isango Ensemble, ‘UVenas no Adonisi’, was at once an exemplar and an exception in the festival. As a dramatisation of a poem,UVenaslay somewhat outside the main programme. Isango’s ‘contribution’ did not complete the festival lineup of plays (which lackedTwo Noble Kinsmen) but rather emphasised the raggedness of this incomplete works after...

  8. Ìtàn Ògìnìntìn, The Winter’s Tale Shakespeare meets Yoruba gods
    (pp. 48-60)

    The production ofÌtàn Ògìnìntìn¹ for the Globe to Globe Shakespeare festival in the summer of 2012 generated much debate about the nature and reception of modern Nigerian performance culture.Ìtàn Ògìnìntìn, a re-reading ofThe Winter’s Talein Yoruba, was written by Chief Ayantade Ipadeola, a traditional drummer and performance artist. Reactions and reviews of the production were hugely varied for both the Nigerian and Globe Theatre performances. While some critics praised a dynamic interpretation of an iconic Shakespeare play that blurred the boundaries of drama, music and dance, and crafted an ecstatic and uplifting evening of African performance...

  9. Performing the Nation at the London Globe – Notes on a Southern Sudanese Cymbeline ‘We will be like other people in other places’
    (pp. 61-82)

    In a world where everything seems to have already been seen and staged, a deceptively straightforward production of one of Shakespeare’s later and lesser known plays caused quite a stir at the London ‘Globe to Globe festival: Shakespeare in 37 languages’, itself part of the nationwide Cultural Olympiad, the cultural events running alongside the Games in 2012. The South Sudan Theatre Company’sCymbeline, performed in Juba Arabic, had critics and audience in raptures: ‘standing ovations’ (Bloomekatz 2012); a ‘historic […] performance’ (Mayen 2012); plus a four- (out of five-) star review byThe Guardianwhich declared that the actors ‘played...

  10. African Shakespeares – a Discussion
    (pp. 83-97)

    I am (MW) the Artistic Director of Border Crossings and Visiting Professor at Rose Bruford College. I directedMacbethin Mauritius with a local cast (1997), and followed that project with a production ofTwelfth Night, by the UK company which was created to tour Mauritius, the Seychelles and Zimbabwe for the British Council (1997–8). I also directed Dev’s version ofThe Tempest,Toufann, at the Africa Centre in London (1999).

    Let’s begin the discussion by talking a bit about language and the power of language. I’d like to start with Arne, as I saw your Shona production the...

  11. ‘Sa bezsominn Shakespeare la’ – The Brave New World of Dev Virahsawmy
    (pp. 98-110)

    Inspired by the fact that two of his predecessors at the University of Edinburgh – Julius Nyerere, who was later to become the President of Tanzania, and Thomas Decker from Sierra Leone – had translated Shakespeare’sJulius Caesarin Swahili and Kriyo respectively, Dev Virahsawmy took the decision to delve into translating Shakespeare during his university days in the mid-1960s. For Virahsawmy, this was concrete evidence that Shakespeare was perennial and accessible to all. Urged by his university lecturer to explore Mauritian Creole (Kreol) as a language, Virahsawmy’s endeavour became even more pressing. However, his first translation was not that ofJulius...

  12. Crioulo Shakespeareano & the Creolising of King Lear
    (pp. 111-133)

    The late Cesária Évora, celebrated ‘barefoot diva’ of the Cape Verde Islands, shone a global spotlight on the small island republic located approximately 600 km off the West African coast. The intercultural fusings of the music and her vocal style represent aspects of the Crioulo culture of this former Portuguese colony, a country that has been under-researched in African studies and certainly in theatre studies. Of all the performance traditions, it is music that is most celebrated throughout the Cape Verdean diaspora as a marker of national and cultural identity. The Grammy Award-winning Évora, notably lauded in herNew York...

  13. Playscript

    • Wẹ̀sóo, Hamlet! or The Resurrection of Hamlet
      (pp. 134-184)

      The first version of this play was written, and premiered, at Greencastle, Indiana, USA, during my stay at the DePauw University as the Lee G. Hall Distinguished Playwright-in-Residence in 2003. The workshop production was directed by Professor Ron Dye at the Moore Theatre of DePauw’s Performing Arts Centre, with music provided by Francis Awe and his Nigerian Talking Drum Ensemble. The present script has only been slightly modified. The play takes place in Yorubaland, Nigeria, in a period deliberately set in a non-specific year within the last half of the 20th century. Thus, some of the references will recall the...

  14. Book Reviews

    • Natasha Distiller, Shakespeare & the Coconuts: On Post-apartheid South African Culture
      (pp. 185-186)
      Peter Thomson
    • Ashwin Desai, Reading Revolution: Shakespeare on Robben Island
      (pp. 186-188)
      Yvette Hutchison
    • Mufunanji Magalasi, Stage Drama in Independent Malawi: 1980 to 2002
      (pp. 189-192)
      Jane Plastow
    • Victor N. Gomia, Mobilizing the Hordes: Radio Drama as Development Theatre in Sub-Saharan Africa
      (pp. 192-194)
      David Kerr
  15. Books Received
    (pp. 194-194)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-195)