CfP: New Stage Idioms: South African Drama, Theatre and Performance In The Twenty-First Century


An international conference organized by the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

May 11-13, 2017


In the years that followed the end of Apartheid, South African drama, theatre and performance were characterized by a remarkable productivity, which entailed a process of constant aesthetic reinvention. In the post-apartheid period, South African playwrights and theatre makers sought to come to terms with the traumatic legacy of the pre-democratic past. Witness thereof are performance works documenting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. After 1994, the “protest” theatre template of the apartheid years morphed into increasingly more diverse forms of stage expressions, detectable in the works of Mike van Graan, Craig Higginson, Zakes Mda, Lara Foot, Paul Grootboom, Omphile Molusi, Fatima Dike, Nadia Davids, Aubrey Sekhabi, Magnet Theatre, Yael Farber, and Neil Coppen to name only a few. This conference will seek to document the various ways in which the “rainbow” nation has forged these new stage idioms, inviting contributions about different forms of performance modes. In order to foreground theatre, the keynote speakers will be active figures from the contemporary post-apartheid stage: Mike van Graan, Craig Higginson, Greg Homann, Nadia Davids, and Omphile Molusi. Here is a list of potential topics for consideration:

–Contemporary theatre makers working in English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, and/or other African languages. How can Indigenous playwriting be defined?

— New thematic and aesthetic trends in playwriting.

— Impact of globalization on South African playwriting and stage practices.

— Theatre making from marginalised voices (expressing gender, social or ethnic differences; LBGT voices on the stage; playwriting by women) and other issues of identity representation.

— Contemporary township and community theatre.

— Reinterpretations of European classics for the South African stage;

— How are of issues of trauma, violence and cultural memory/amnesia enacted on the contemporary stage?

— New forms of political theatre.

— Alternative dramaturgies (installation art, site-specific performance, contemporary dance).

— The politics of festivals; politics of funding.

A selection of conference presentations will be considered for publication. Prospective participants should send a short proposal and a brief vita to the convenor, Professor Marc Maufort, Université Libre de Bruxelles, by September 1, 2016 (mmaufort[at] ulb[dot]ac [dot]be). Notifications of acceptance will be sent in late October 2016.

Confirmed keynote speakers: Mike van Graan, Craig Higginson, Greg Homann, Nadia Davids, and Omphile Molusi.

An evening of readings from these playwrights’ and theatre practitioners’ works will be held during the conference.

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