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Review of Theatre and Performance in Africa: Intercultural Perspectives


By Martin Banham

Theatre and Performance in Africa: Intercultural Perspectives ed. Eckhard Breitinger. Bayreuth African Studies No. 31, Bayreuth, 2003 (new ed.) 224pp. ISBN 3 927510 73 4, ISSN 0178 0034. €22.95 $22.95.

First published in 1994, this edition of collected essays (with contributions by, amongst others, Olu Obafemi, Martin Rohmer, Oga Abah, Bole Butake, Zakes Mda and the late Rose Mbowa) has been revised and expanded by Eckhard Breitinger, specifically with the addition of an essay by Breitinger himself; ‘Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy: Street Sociology and Political Satire’. Reviewing this book when first issued I commented that it was ‘an important resource for all concerned with African theatre’. This remains the case. The book has seminal essays which have gained importance with the passing of time (and people), a good case being Rose Mbowa’s ‘Artists Under Seige: Theatre and the Dictatorial Regimes in Uganda’ and Breitinger’s own complementary essay on Mbowa’s Mother Uganda and Her Children. The range of essays on southern and South African theatre documents times as well as theatre initiatives, and the whole collection is given strength by the fact that so many contributors are themselves active and innovative practitioners. Breitinger’s new essay on Area Boy is a welcome chronicle of the creation of an important play (and international theatre initiative) that has not received the attention it deserves in terms of the manner in which it is rooted in the playwright’s earlier work.

[Published in Leeds African Studies Bulletin 66 (2004), pp. 80-81]

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