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African Theatre 8: Diasporas

African Theatre 8: Diasporas

Christine Matzke
Osita Okagbue
Reviews Editor Jane Plastow
Series: African Theatre
Volume: 8
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 190
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  • Book Info
    African Theatre 8: Diasporas
    Book Description:

    'Diasporas', as used in the title of this volume, refers to a multitude of groups and communities with widely differing histories, identities and current locations. This book brings together essays on theatre by people of African descent in North America, Cuba, Italy, the UK, Israel and Tasmania. Several chapters present overviews of particular national contexts, others offer insights into play texts or specific performances. Offering a mix of academic and practitioner's points of views, Volume 8 in the African Theatre series analyses and celebrates various aspects of African diasporic theatre worldwide. Guest Editors: CHRISTINE MATZKE, Lecturer in African Literatures and Cultures, Humboldt-University, Berlin; and OSITA OKAGBUE, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Drama, Goldsmiths, University of London. 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 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: 978-1-84615-687-8
    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. Obituaries
    (pp. x-xv)
    Eckhard Breitinger, David Kerr and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xvi-xx)

    When we were invited to guest-edit a volume of African Theatre on the topic of ‘Diaspora’, our first brain-storming session resulted in the idea of paying tribute to, but also moving beyond the usual conceptual and theatrical ‘suspects’: the dispersal and displacement of African-descended peoples, the historical narratives of slave trade and the transatlantic middle passage; black (US) American and Caribbean performance forms. A lot of interesting work has come out on African-American and African-Caribbean theatre [for some recent examples see Harrison et al. (2002); Theatre Journal 57.4 (2005); Women & Performance 16.1 (2006); Performance Research 12.3 (2007)], but equally exciting...

  6. Performing Black Canadas The trans-American imaginary of Black Canadian theatre
    (pp. 1-14)

    Rinaldo Walcott argues that ‘Black Canadian theatre is forged and performed within the context of a diasporic sensibility or consciousness’ (Walcott 2005: 80). Certainly, if one understands diaspora in the terms that Stuart Hall has proposed, ‘a necessary heterogeneity and diversity … a conception of “identity” which lives with and through, not despite, difference’ (Hall 1994: 402), diaspora offers a useful way of conceptualizing not only black Canadian theatrical production, but black Canadian artistry in general. Whether the plays attend to specific experiences of blacks in Canada – as do, for instance, George Elliott Clarke’s Beatrice Chancy, Lorena Gale’s Angélique,...

  7. The Theory of Ase The persistence of African performance aesthetics in the North American diaspora – August Wilson, Ntozake Shange & Djanet Sears
    (pp. 15-25)

    My intention in this essay is to use the work of three North American playwrights, namely – August Wilson, Ntozake Shange, and Djanet Sears – to illustrate that Africans on the continent and in the African diaspora have theories of their performances and that these theories are different in conception, methods of translocation, and execution, from Western i.e. European diasporic theories of performance. I also want to highlight that whereas theory operates primarily through the medium of typography in the West, largely because of the West’s reliance on literature as a basic medium for the dissemination of information and knowledge,...

  8. African Presence in Cuban Theatre
    (pp. 26-38)

    Fidel Castro declared to the new Cuban state in 1959 that: ‘… nobody can consider themselves to be of pure race, much less superior race …’ (Pérez Sarduy 2005: 3). Racial discrimination was considered anti-nation and citizens were expected to relate to each other through merit, not through perceptions of ethnicity; Castro’s statements echoed those of the nineteenth-century Cuban republican, José Martí, who declared that Cubans should transcend race, considering themselves ‘more than white, more than black, Cuban’ (ibid.: 6). The search for Cuban identity beyond race has been a feature of the state since 1959 and only in recent...

  9. Marginality, Sacrifice & Transgression Mothers & rebellious women in two plays by Cuba’s Eugenio Hernández Espinosa
    (pp. 39-51)

    Eugenio Hernández Espinosa (b. 1936) is one of Cuba’s most prolific dramatists. He is also the dramatist who has been most relentless in representing the African Cuban experience in theatre.¹ In addition, his large corpus of works shows a firm commitment to the interrogation of the way gendered attitudes retard social and political progress within black Cuban communities as well as in the wider society. In this article I examine two of his early plays, El sacrificio (1961) and María Antonia (1964), in an attempt to highlight a set of political preoccupations concerning gender, marginality and resistance in Cuba. Read...

  10. Interculture on Stage Afro-Italian Theatre
    (pp. 52-64)

    The past two decades have witnessed important developments in Italy’s artistic and literary scene, with people of sub-Saharan African origins increasingly becoming active participants in the cultural life of the country. Starting from the beginning of the 1990s, the literary scene has seen the rapid development of what is commonly referred to as ‘migration literature’, a corpus of texts produced in Italian by immigrants from so-called developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In contrast to European countries where mass migration is largely a postcolonial phenomenon (in the cultural if not strictly historical sense), the notion...

  11. Black British Theatre in London 1972–89 A brief overview
    (pp. 65-78)

    The first black person to appear in written British records was a Roman centurion put under guard for disobeying an order. So the story goes, and whether this is true or false, apocryphal or factual, there have been blacks living in Britain in established communities for many centuries. The unfulfilled wish of Britain’s first Queen Elizabeth to rid her imperial self of these ‘blackamores’ is testimony. According to a recent UK census by the year 2011 twenty-eight per cent of Londoners will be of either Black or Asian descent, forty six percent of whom will have been born in the...

  12. Talking about Something Dark An interview with Lemn Sissay
    (pp. 79-84)

    JP: Something Dark has obviously been hugely successful. I wondered about your process in arriving at it. Did you write it first and then rehearse or was there a symbiotic relationship? How did it happen?

    LS: I think the reason that I had to write it is as good an explanation as to how it happened as I can possibly give. And the reason is that throughout my career, which scarily spans twenty years since my first book of poetry came out, I had a parallel story which was that I needed to find who my mother and my father...

  13. Jews, Blood & Ethiopian Dance in Israel Critical race theory & the postcolonial
    (pp. 85-99)

    The first scholarly article on the Ethiopian dance theatre group Eskesta (Baum 2001) appeared in a volume dedicated to community theatre and sociopolitical inclusion, Performing Democracy. I sought to share my experiences of diasporic Africa in the Middle East, the virtuosity of young Ethiopian dancers in Haifa, and the stories they produced through the media of music, traditional movement and modern dance. I had watched Eskesta since 1996, a formative year, when I was asked to advise the University of Haifa whether to endorse the group. I gave my unqualified approval, but doubted the group’s ability to maintain its particular,...

  14. Nature in Migration & the ‘Natural Migrant’ Performing African settlement in Tasmanian community arts
    (pp. 100-112)

    From 1992 to 2002, the Australian island state of Tasmania experienced a net migration loss that was a result of, as well as a contributor to, poor economic performance. Populations born on the island sought to leave as soon as they reached adulthood in order to find a steady income; recent overseas immigrants to the island state were leaving for mainland locations in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales as soon as they could find lucrative employment and a culturally diverse community in which to live. Hobart, as the ‘whitest capital city’ in all of Australia, was losing recent immigrants...

  15. Playscript

    • Translator’s Introduction to Khaled El-Sawy’s Messing with the Mind
      (pp. 113-116)

      The premiere of Khaled El-Sawy’s Messing with the Mind in 2004 on the stage of Al-Hanager, the Egyptian government-supported experimental theatre establishment devoted to promoting young talents, was for many reasons a momentous event. Most conspicuous for the average Egyptian theatre-goer was the fact that the show’s opinionated undertones were out and out anti-American, a political stance that the Egyptian government – perhaps currently the region’s most committed American ally – would not be expected to endorse, let alone to fund or promote. Talking politics and religion are particularly perilous activities in the Arab world, carrying out this endeavour in...

    • Messing with the Mind: A POLITICAL SATIRE
      (pp. 117-144)

      Production Manager Assalam alaykom.¹ I’m the production manager. As you can see folks, the program seems dreadfully frenzied tonight. Help us work properly so the night goes by serenely. When you’re told to clap, you clap. When told to laugh, you laugh. Etc … our producer tells you that the pay each extra of you will take home tonight can be six instead of five dollars. So, let’s keep on our toes and never forget that we’re transmitting live. Have a good one. We’re ready here, Boss. Cameras.

      (Actors including the marines and the traditionally attired young man and young...

  16. Book Reviews

    • Vivian Bickford-Smith & Richard Mendelsohn (eds) Black and White in Colour: African History on Screen Oxford: James Currey, Athens: Ohio University Press, Cape Town: Double Storey, 2007, 374 pp. ISBN 978 1 84701 522 0 £14.95
      (pp. 145-147)
      David Kerr
    • Susan Arndt, Eckhard Breitinger and Marek Spitczok von Brisinski (eds) Theatre, Performance and New Media in Africa Bayreuth: Bayreuth African Studies 82, 2007, 222 pp. ISBN 3927510637. £13.99
      (pp. 147-150)
      Yvette Hutchison
    • Bernth Lindfors, Early Soyinka Trenton, NJ and Asmara: Africa World Press, 2008, 281 pp. ISBN 1-59221-653-6 (pbk), $29.95
      (pp. 150-153)
    • Mieke Kolk (ed.) Rituals and Ceremonies in Sudan: From Cultural Heritage to Theatre Haella Foundation: Amsterdam, 2006, 163 pp. No ISBN
      (pp. 153-156)
      Osita Okagbue
    • Three Plays

      • Kehmbuma Langmia, Titabet and the Takumbeng Mankon, Bamenda: Langaa Research & Publishing CIG, 2008, x+42 pp. ISBN 978-9956-558-13-1, n.p.
        (pp. 156-156)
        Martin Banham
      • Foluke Ogunleye, Nest in a Cage Manzini, Swaziland: TTI Publishing Ltd., 2004, 55 pp. ISBN 0797800026, £9.95/$14.95. Distributed by African Books Collective.
        (pp. 156-157)
        Martin Banham
      • Nabie Yayah Swaray, The Rape of Fatimah Trenton, NJ & Asmara, Eritrea: Africa World Press, Inc., 2008, xxxv+153 pp. ISBN 1-59221-657-9 (pb), n.p
        (pp. 157-157)
        Martin Banham
    • Jule Koch, Karibuni Wananchi: Theatre for Development in Tanzania Bayreuth: Bayreuth African Studies, 2008, 250 pp. ISBN 978-3-939661-06-1 ISSN 0178-0034, Euro 27.95
      (pp. 158-160)
      Amandina Lihamba
    • Christopher Joseph Odhiambo, Theatre for Development in Kenya: In Search of an Effective Procedure and Methodology Bayreuth: Bayreuth African Studies, 2008, 201 pp. ISBN 9783939661078, Euro 19.95
      (pp. 161-162)
      Jane Plastow
  17. Index
    (pp. 163-172)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 173-173)