Title

Private Trauma, Public Drama: Fugard, Kani, and Ntshona’s The Island and Maponya’s Gangsters

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

English Studies in Africa

Volume

48.1

Publication Date

2005

First Page

107

Last Page

123

Abstract

In the 1970s and 1980s, theatre in South Africa became an important and increasingly militant vehicle for engaging in the cultural struggle against apartheid. In the black townships, the apolitical musical productions of Gibson Kente gradually faded in popularity and were superseded by explicitly pro-resistance plays such as those associated with the Black Consciousness Movement. Urban theatres, too, like the Space Theatre in Cape Town and the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, used the relative impunity of their high profiles and private support to stage overtly anti-apartheid drama. In both township and urban drama, the prison cell and the torture chamber were frequently taken as setting and theme, a fact which suggests the extent to which the experiences of detention and torture were collectively shared by black South Africans, and black dissidents in particular. The effect of this subject matter was also reinforced by a bristling police presence at many political theatre productions in South Africa.

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