African Theatre and Politics: The Evolution of Theatre in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe : a Comparative Study

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Rodopi, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 286 pages
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This study, the first book-length treatment of its subject, draws on a large base of elusive material and on extensive field research. It is the result of the author's wide experience of teaching and producing theatre in Africa, and of her fascination with the ways in which traditional performance forms have interacted with, or have resisted, non-indigenous modes of dramatic representation in the process of evolving into the vital theatres of the present day. A comparative historical study is offered of the three national cultures of Ethiopia, Tanganyika/Tanzania, and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. Not only (scripted) drama is treated, but also theatre in the sense of the broader range of performance arts such as dance and song. The development of theatre and drama is seen against the background of centuries of cultural evolution and interaction, from pre-colonial times, through phases of African and European imperialism, to the liberation struggles and newly-won independence of the present. The seminal relationship between theatre, society and politics is thus a central focus. Topics covered include: the function in theatre of vernacular and colonial languages; performance forms under feudal, communalist and socialist régimes; cultural militancy and political critique; the relationship of theatre to social élites and to the peasant class; state control (funding and censorship); racism and separate development in the performing arts; contemporary performance structures (amateur, professional, community and university theatre). Due attention is paid to prominent dramatists, theatre groups and theatre directors, and the author offers new insight into African perceptions of the role of the artist in the theatre, as well as dealing with the important subject of gender roles (in drama, in performance ritual, and in theatre practice). The book is illustrated with contemporary photographs.

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The Colonial Theatre
The performance forms 18 Dancedrama 22 Drama 26 Orature 29 Pre
Amhara imperialism 47 The first plays 50 The Italian occupation
Formation and colonization 60 The development of indigenous theatre
Theatre in Liberation Struggles
The rise of political awareness 91 The reformist theatre 93 77k new drama
The armed struggle 19651980 106 The theatres of separate development
festivals 115 Liberation arts
A government in crisis 203 A new beginning? 205 The Theatre Arts
Funding the theatres 238 The independent arts 244 The contemporary

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