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Tour(ist)ing Post-Apartheid South African Theatre: The Works of Brett Bailey, Yael Farber, and Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom in (Inter)National Production

Hoxworth, Kellen (2012) Tour(ist)ing Post-Apartheid South African Theatre: The Works of Brett Bailey, Yael Farber, and Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom in (Inter)National Production. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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After the fall of apartheid in 1994, South Africa and its theatre-makers faced a pressing question: what now? This thesis investigates how three South African dramatists negotiated the exigencies of theatre production in post-apartheid South Africa. Brett Bailey, Yael Farber, and Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom developed idiosyncratic theatrical forms experimenting with notions of “authentic” South African identity, both theatrically and culturally. Through inventive theatrical recombinations, all three dramatists formed canons around particular South African performance traditions and cultural sources. The first half of this thesis analyzes the negotiations of these new, divergent forms as “authentic” (re)presentations of South Africa as a whole.
The latter half of this thesis scopes out to interrogate the effects of such authorizing structures on an international scale. Deploying theories of tourism and museum cultures from John Urry, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, and others, this thesis asserts that international theatre festivals create “museums of plays” for global spectators. These festivals privilege particular forms of theatre, namely the “Hegemonic Intercultural Theatre” defined by Daphne P. Lei, which typically constructs syncretic “intercultural” works by adding “cultural” (i.e. non-Western) elements to Western stories and structures. Like tourism and museum cultures, the international theatre market places great value on “authentic” cultural objects, creating an exchange market for variably different cultural products.
The impacts of these systems on post-apartheid South African theatre are multiple. Notably, between 2003 and 2008, all three dramatists premiered new works that directly reimagined European source material (MoLoRa, Orfeus, and Foreplay). Such appropriation of “Western” cultural material raises important questions concerning the long-term trajectory of South African theatre. Namely, lacking dedicated funding domestically, South African theatre-makers have often found larger audiences and profits from touring their works to international theatre festivals, primarily those located in Europe. With both textual sources and productions tending towards Euroamerican spectators, South African theatre faces the threat of becoming “South African” product shaped primarily by international beliefs of and demands for “South Africa.” Thus, the international traffic and travel of South African theatre over the past two decades begs the very question of South African theatre’s putative “South Africanness.”


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hoxworth, Kellenkeh108@pitt.eduKEH108
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcConachie, Brucebamcco@pitt.eduBAMCCO
Committee MemberFavorini, Attiliobucfav@pitt.eduBUCFAV
Committee MemberJackson-Schebetta, Lisalisajsch@pitt.eduLISAJSCH
Date: 30 May 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 April 2012
Approval Date: 30 May 2012
Submission Date: 10 April 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 172
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: South African theatre, intercultural theatre, international arts festivals, hegemony theory, national identity, performance, authenticity, cultural authority
Date Deposited: 30 May 2012 15:24
Last Modified: 30 May 2017 05:15

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  • Tour(ist)ing Post-Apartheid South African Theatre: The Works of Brett Bailey, Yael Farber, and Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom in (Inter)National Production. (deposited 30 May 2012 15:24) [Currently Displayed]


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