Postcolonial Plays: An Anthology

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Postcolonial Plays : An Anthology. This collection of contemporary postcolonial plays demonstrates the extraordinary vitality of a body of work that is currently influencing the shape of contemporary world theatre. This anthology encompasses both internationally admired 'classics' and previously unpublished texts, all dealing with imperialism and its aftermath. Introductions to individual plays include information on authors as well as overviews of cultural contexts, major ideas and performance history.

Dramaturgical techniques in the plays draw on Western theatre as well as local performance traditions and include agit-prop dialogue, musical routines, storytelling, ritual incantation, epic narration, dance, multimedia presentation and puppetry. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.

Postcolonial plays : an anthology / edited by Helen Gilbert.

Published May 31st by Routledge first published May 29th More Details Original Title. Other Editions 6. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Showing Rating details. Sort order. Feb 19, Phillip rated it it was amazing Shelves: drama. Pink, by Judith Thompson: This is a very short monologue play, and while I'm generally not a fan of monologue plays, this one is good. Part of what works for me here is that the play is so short--part of my problem with monologue plays is that it is hard to sustain character development over a long period with only one speaker. But Lucy, the 10 year old white South African narrator, is an interesting character developed basically in a thumb nail sketch kind of way.

She is a character deeply embe Pink, by Judith Thompson: This is a very short monologue play, and while I'm generally not a fan of monologue plays, this one is good. She is a character deeply embedded in the ideology of apartheid South Africa, but not yet old enough to understand it, and so the references that to her seem quite casual and unimportant take on significant resonances for the audience.

The Hungry Earth, by Maishe Maponya: This is an anti-apartheid play, and like many of the s and 80s anti-apartheid plays, The Hungry Earth is a kind of agit-prop play, speaking directly and didactically against a form of oppression. I'm not a big fan of agit-prop, but I like the Brechtian elements of Maponya's play, which take South African performance traditions and utilize them to make it clear that this play is supposed to function as a teaching play, teaching the audience about their own conditions of oppression and how to formulate a resistance.

In performance, these techniques would be more apparent. For instance, Gilbert's introduction describes the small number of essential props being placed in the middle of the performance space when they aren't immediately being used by the actors--a technique which breaks any illusion that what one is seeing is a play. One critique of Maponya's work is that he evokes an idealized and therefore illusory Mother Afrika, imagined to be perfect, communal, and serene before the arrival of white people.

Postcolonial Plays by Helen Gilbert

This can, as Gilbert says, seem very dated and problematic today, but it does offer us valuable insight into the theatrical culture that was struggling to grow in the townships under apartheid. I think it was in a review of the Norton Anthology of Drama.


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It's hard not to like Soyinka's fabulous plays. Like many of his works, The Strong Breed is interested in the social role of sacrifice, and how the rituals we use to structure those sacrifices can fail when they run up against the very human frailty of those who need to carry them out.


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  7. In particular, The Strong Breed deals with a village that sacrifices a stranger at the beginning of each new year--a stranger designated to carry all of the village's troubles, misfortunes, curses, and suffering, and therefore to usher in a clean new year. In part the tragedy of this play derives from the fact that Eman--a stranger who substitutes himself for the boy initially chosen--fundamentally misunderstands the ritual.

    He assumes the ritual in his adopted village will follow like the one in his native village, where a carrier carries a boat full of the village's troubles down to the river. The ritual Eman expects is symbolic. But he finds out that he has fundamentally misunderstood the situation. Regardless, his fate drives him inexorably toward the sacrifice. It is a cutting social commentary on the problems of robbery and law enforcement in a society deeply marked by poverty, inequality, and corruption.

    The play follows a group of robbers who are ethically pitted against both a police force and a market community that supports the death penalty for armed robbery. However, one interesting point that keeps cropping up is that both the robbers as well as their opponents are victims of the political and economic systems that keep Nigerians impoverished--so while the two sides are diametrically opposed on questions like robbery and justice, one must wonder whether or not these are really two versions of the same desperate struggle against privation.

    Anowa, by Ama Ata Aidoo: This play blends postcolonialism, feminism, and anti-capitalism in really unique ways. Aidoo's play tells the story of Anowa, a headstrong young woman who marries the man she loves despite her parents mostly her mother and the village disapproving of it. The young people go off and begin a business selling animal skins, and as they prosper and begin acquiring slaves--which she stridently resists despite him--and wealth, their relationship becomes strained to the point where they are virtual strangers in their own home.

    The old woman is energetic, caustic, and curmudgeonly, while the old man is serene, balanced, but rarely asserts an opinion. Together they comment on the action of the play, taking different sides in the question of who is to blame for the events going on, and arguing issues like morality, fate, and inter-generational change. But I really liked Pantomime. But at the same time, the light and often playful language hides deep and ominous conflicts--personal conflicts, racial and imperialist conflicts, class conflicts, and contests over cultural hegemony.

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