1st Edition

Routledge Handbook of African Theatre and Performance

Edited By Kene Igweonu Copyright 2024
    470 Pages 43 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Routledge Handbook of African Theatre and Performance brings together the very latest international research on the performing arts across the continent and the diaspora into one expansive and wide-ranging collection.

    The book offers readers a compelling journey through the different ideas, people and practices that have shaped African theatre and performance, from pre-colonial and colonial times, right through to the 20th and early 21st centuries. Resolutely Pan-African and inter- national in its coverage, the book draws on the expertise of a wide range of Africanist scholars, and also showcases the voices of performers and theatre practitioners working on the cutting-edge of African theatre and performance practice. Contributors aim to answer some of the big questions about the content (nature, form) and context (processes, practice) of theatre, whilst also painting a pluralistic and complex picture of the diversity of cultural, political and artistic exigencies across the continent. Covering a broad range of themes including postcolonialism, transnationalism, interculturalism, Afropolitanism, development and the diaspora, the handbook concludes by projecting possible future directions for African theatre and performance as we continue to advance into the 21st century and beyond.

    This ground-breaking new handbook will be essential reading for students and researchers studying theatre and performance practices across Africa and the diaspora.

    1.      Introduction

    Kene Igweonu



    Part 1 – Colonial and Postcolonial Theatre


    2.      ‘Local Heritage in North African Theatre: Between Cultural Renewal and Identity Politics’

    Cleo Jay


    3.      ‘Ritualistic Performances in Cameroon’

    Paul Animbom Ngong


    4.      ‘The Dùndún Drumming Tradition and the Colonising Missionaries’

    Dennis Eluyefa


    5.      ‘The Emblematic Legacy of Robert Serumaga’s Abafumi (Storytellers) Theatre Company’

    George Bwanika Seremba


    6.      ‘Sony Labou Tansi’s Theatre for a New Humanity’

    Sky Herington


    7.      ‘The Intermittent Rise of Angolan Theatre’

    Angela Wilper Barros


    8.      ‘Lost History of Music for Self-delectation: Tracing Malawi’s Moribund Performance Genres’

    Grant Nthala


    9.      ‘Reconfiguring Postcolonial Cultural Policy: Impetus from Zimbabwean and South African Performers and Performances’

    Julius Heinicke



    Part 2 - Theatre Spaces


    10.  ‘Design and Other Aesthetic Elements in Duro Ladipo’s Oba Koso and Moremi

    Duro Oni


    11.  ‘Interview with Professor Rose Mbowa’

    Kathy A. Perkins


    12.  ‘Spatial Temporality and the Poetics of Space Liminality in Ebiran Ekuechi Facekuerade Performance’

    Sunday Ododo


    13.  ‘The State Theatre in a Transforming South Africa’

    Patrick J. Ebewo


    14.  ‘The CITO – Burkina Faso’s Alternative to a National Theatre’

    Annette Bühler-Dietrich


    15.  ‘Theatre of Statehood: An Examination of NAFEST 2020 and 2021 Opening Ceremony Performances’

    ’Tosin Kooshima Tume


    16.  ‘From Stage Space to Video Space and Back: Multimedia Performance and Audience Engineering in a Contemporary African Environment’

    Charles Nwadigwe


    17.  ‘“Connections Across Remoteness”:  Interacting Online Spaces at the South African Virtual National Arts Festivals (2021-2022)’

    Anton Krueger


    18.  ‘Uninhibited Theatre in Burundi at the Buja Sans Tabou Festival: An Interview with Festival Director Freddy Sabimbona’

    Heather Jeanne Denyer



    Part 3 – Theatre for Development and Social Change


    19.  ‘Democratising the Theatre for Development (TfD) Space through Balancing Power Dynamics: Analysing Practice-Based Experiences from Uganda’

    Keneth Bamuturaki


    20.  ‘Representation of Femicide on Theatre Stages: The Urgency to Respond to the Scourge of Violent Murders of Women in Postcolonial South Africa’

    Karabelo Lekalake


    21.  ‘Understanding Intra-Gender Hostility through Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis: Performative Discursivities in the Works of Female Nigerian Playwrights’

    Nadia Anwar


    22.  ‘Labarin Aisha (Aisha’s Tale) and Aisha Tori: Radio Drama as Paradigms of Social Change in Northern Nigeria’

    Patrick-Jude Oteh


    23.  ‘Intervention Theatre/Film Watatu (2015) as a Counter-Narrative to Radicalization of the Youth in the Coastal Region of Kenya’

    Christopher Odhiambo


    24.  ‘After Revivals: New Protest Theatre by “Born Free” South Africans’

    Gibson Alessandro Cima


    25.  ‘Performed Activism as a Vehicle for Social Change in Nigeria’

    Olutomi Kassim


    26.  ‘Prosper Kompaoré and Theatre for Development in Burkina Faso: An Interview with Prosper Kompaoré’

    Annette Bühler-Dietrich


    27.  ‘Hope through the Many Theatres of Africa: An Interview with Togolese Performer Afi Akofa Kougbenou’

    Heather Jeanne Denyer



    Part 4 – Diaspora


    28.  ‘Life Forces, Spirit Bodies and the Claiming of Space - Black/British?’

    Monique Charles and ‘H’ Patten


    29.  ‘Contemporary Representations of Africa on the British Stage: A Case Study of Theresa Ikoko’s Girls and Inua Ellams’s Barber Shop Chronicles

    Oladipo Agboluaje


    30.  ‘Expanding the Diasporic Legacies of Race and Nationalism: Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Beneatha’s Place

    Joseph McLaren


    31.  ‘Appropriating the Victorian Past in African American Theatre’

    Tiziana Morosetti


    32.  ‘Representations of Africa in 21st Century African-American Drama’

    Kevin Wetmore


    33.  ‘Performance Arts, Theatre and Politics in Angola and Its Diaspora’

    Chikukuango Cuxima-zwa


    34.  ‘Tracking “Rasha’s Gaze” to Spaces of (un)Belonging:  Black Performance in 21st-Century Berlin’

    Pepetual Mforbe Chiangong



    Part 5 - Theatre Futures


    35.  ‘Interweaving Discourse in the Arabo-Islamic World: Tracing its Historical and Contemporary Dimensions’

    Khalid Amine


    36.  ‘The Sankofa Strategy: A Plea for a Timeless African Theatres’

    Meriam Bousselmi


    37.  ‘Africa’s Invisible Anglophone Women Creatives Daring to Challenge the 21st Century’

    Yvette Hutchison


    38.  ‘The Future of African Theatre Is Female: Women Theatre Artists in West African Theatre of the Twenty-First Century’

    Heather Jeanne Denyer


    39.  ‘Beyond Ritual Drama and Marxism: The Future of Nigerian Theatre in Yoruba’s Omoluabi Essence Philosophy as Performance Aesthetics’

    ’Bode Ojoniyi


    40.  ‘A History of the Decolonised African Theatre Aesthetic: Projections of an Emergent African Theatre Practice - Afroscenology’

    Samuel Ravengai


    41.  ‘Contemporary East African Dance Theatre: Emerging Decoloniality and Choreographic Self-writing’

    Charlie Ely


    42.  ‘The Need for a Production Policy for African Theatres: An Interview with Beninese Playwright, Sèdjro Giovanni Houansou’

    Heather Jeanne Denyer



    Kene Igweonu is Professor of Creative Education at University of the Arts London, where he is also Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of London College of Communication. An interdisciplinary researcher, Professor Igweonu has extensive experience of senior academic leadership in immersive and interactive practices and performance practice. His practice research and publication interests are in storytelling, theatre, and performance in Africa and its Diaspora, as well as the Feldenkrais Method in health, wellbeing, and performance training. A champion for arts and creative industries, Professor Igweonu is Chair of DramaHE, Council Member for Creative UK, and until August 2023, President of the African Theatre Association.

    The Routledge Handbook of African Theatre and Performance offers welcome insights into established topics and points towards exciting new avenues of research and knowledge production. What I particularly like is its consciously pluralistic scope, and the inclusion of African creatives as part of the scholarly discourse. “African theatre” is constantly remaking itself, and this Handbook is living proof that it will continue to matter.

    Christine Matzke, University of Bayreuth


    The impact of colonialism on African theatre is all embracing and overwhelmingly detrimental to the upward surge and growth of theatre in its post-colonial journey. African theatre today would need to put many structures in place for it to enjoy its pride of place in the pantheon of world theatres. All the ‘enabling environments’ that would facilitate the post-colonial life of African theatre are clearly highlighted and superbly discussed in the Routledge Handbook of African Theatre and Performance. I therefore roundly recommend the book to anyone who is irrevocably committed to seeing the new dawn of post-colonial and renascent African performing art experiences.

    Peter Badejo, OBE

    In bringing together this eclectic range of essays that cover different areas and traditions of theatre and performance in Africa and its diasporas, Kene Igweonu’s Routledge Handbook of African Theatre and Performance shines an insightful light on both the heritage and the more recent research and scholarship on African theatre traditions and practices. In doing so, the book offers fresh understandings of what constitutes African theatre and performance, the many directions African theatre has taken and continues to take, and the need for these theatres and performances to be studied and understood in their own terms, and never by the frameworks of other traditions.

    Osita OkagbueProfessor of Theatre and Performance, Goldsmiths, University of London