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The postdramatic theatre of Athol Fugard and Maishe Maponya: commitment, collaboration, and experiment in apartheid South Africa

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dc.contributor.advisor Gqibithole, Khaya Michael
dc.contributor.advisor Baum, Rob
dc.contributor.author Shamsuddeen, Bello
dc.date.accessioned 2017-07-07T11:34:34Z
dc.date.available 2017-07-07T11:34:34Z
dc.date.issued 2017
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10530/1591
dc.description A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Arts in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of English at the University of Zululand, 2017 en_US
dc.description.abstract Athol Fugard and Maishe Maponya both used the postdramatic theatre, which was largely anti-elitist, anti-text, experimental and collaborative, at certain point in their literary careers. They rebelled against established conventions, and, in their own ways, produced a type of theatre that suited their context and literary and ideological leanings. The rebellion and transformation of the theatre was not peculiar to them, but was a universal phenomenon at the time this thesis examines. As such, it manifested in works of artists who appropriated the new dramatic techniques to represent their different contexts and emerging socio-political trends. The thesis examines the collaborative process of Fugard, Kani, and Ntshona in view of the critical debates about identity, politics, role play, and Fugard’s claim to primary authorship of Sizwe Bansi is Dead and The Island. Collaboration is not a fixed term or practice. It depends largely on the play, play-making situation, and intention. It also changes even with the same artists involved in the collaboration. The devising process that led to The Coat, for example, differed from that of Sizwe Bansi is Dead and The Island. Even the collaborative process of Sizwe Bansi is Dead and The Island differs despite that the plays were produced around the same time. Fugard’s collaboration with the Circle Players (late 1950s) also differs from his collaboration with the Serpent Players (1960s) and that with Kani and Ntshona (early 1970s). Collaboration meant different things at different times for Fugard. He seems to have ridden on the coattails of black actors, although he successfully toured the plays around the world. Maponya’s idea of collaboration differs from that of Fugard. Although Maponya did not officially collaborate with actors, he used them as conduits into their lived experiences (The Hungry Earth) and professions (Umongikazi). This play-making technique is in many ways collaborative and similar to Fugard’s collaborative pattern during his work with the Circle Players in the production of No-Good Friday and Nongogo. Maponya lifts up the black artist but suffers the consequences. Fugard and Maponya used the actors in different capacities and utilised fairly similar, but different, collaborative techniques. They both utilised experimental, improvisational, and workshop-based methods differently, and at different times. The white South African playwright Fugard prepared the ground for radical experimentation with form and content in South Africa. Fugard enjoys a place of honour in the South African (and more generally African) canon. His reputation as a great writer, creative collaborator and director, and as a person who was able to create a unique theatre that blended African and Western forms of performance, has been acknowledged globally. His work with black actors, notably John Kani and Winston Ntshona, enabled this feat. He adopted a multidimensional approach to art, retained his literary leaning and identity, collaborated, and assisted in training and directing of black actors, and so contributed in his own equally potent way to the struggle against apartheid through the theatre. He promoted a belief in “the personal is political” through plays to be examined herein. The Coat (1966), Sizwe Bansi is Dead (1972) and The Island (1973) are selected because they are Fugard’s most political plays and because they were devised in collaboration with actors. The Hungry Earth (1979), Gangsters (1984) and Jika (1986) also pass the litmus test because they are Maponya’s most radical indictment of the apartheid regime and because they were also devised through experiments with actors who provided material and acting. In contrast to most writing on Fugard and Maponya, which are anchored to either a literary interpretation of the plays or performance discourse, this study offers a literary and performative analysis of the selected plays, demonstrating that this must be done together. This thesis also offers a comparative analysis of the selected plays. Maponya is a black artist and bitter playwright of the Struggle. His works are multifaceted, open to differing interpretations and are fairly universal and timeless because of their concern with general themes such as capitalism, subversion and containment; so also for their relation with more universal works, and their demonstration that the local and immediate experiences can have global legs. His concern with Black Consciousness and resistance however confined his status to a black ideologue. Maponya’s dramas nonetheless resist the accustomed standard of categorisation as plays by a black South African dramatist. The sharp cataloguing between white and black and major and minor playwright begins to fall apart when comparing Fugard and Maponya in terms of theatre practice and experiences. The reception of Maponya’s plays – both at home and abroad – reveals that he was an equally theatrically-aware and successful artist of the struggle, although he cannot be evenly matched with Fugard in terms of literary craft and outreach. This reductionism has also affected Fugard, who many regard as a liberal white writer. His colour was a handicap and a saving grace since it allowed him to work with black actors despite the laws banning interracial relations. The discourse of commitment in the plays to be examined – as well as in the dramatists’ practice of theatre – is centred on the relation between intention, context and text. The study examines the artists’ contribution(s) to the struggle; and how effective that contribution is, considering the complicated context and events they wrote about. To my knowledge, no other work, specifically, examines these two quite different playwrights, particularly in the context of their writing methods, their political reception in South Africa and abroad, and their ideas about play-making. New Historicism is chosen for the analysis of the selected plays because they are produced in history and for the theory’s concern with historical situation; because it is more of a practice than a set of doctrines or theory (Greenblatt 1990); and because it is concerned with intention and choice of genre (Bressler 2000). The theory, or rather practice, is also chosen because it promotes the study of both major and minor authors, thereby blurring the distinction between them (Gallagher and Greenblatt 2000); and because it accords more place for collaborative works (Greenblatt 1989) – which is one of the main concerns of this study. en_US
dc.publisher University of Zululand en_US
dc.subject identity politics --Athol Fugard --kani --Ntshona --postdramatic politics --theatre en_US
dc.title The postdramatic theatre of Athol Fugard and Maishe Maponya: commitment, collaboration, and experiment in apartheid South Africa en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US


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