Private Trauma, Public Drama: Fugard, Kani, and Ntshona’s The Island and Maponya’s Gangsters
English Studies in Africa
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 In the black townships, the apolitical musical productions of Gibson Kente gradually faded in popularity and were superseded by explicitly pro-resistance plays such as those associated with the Black Consciousness Movement.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.
“Private Trauma, Public Drama: Fugard, Kani, and Ntshona’s The Island and Maponya’s Gangsters.” English Studies in Africa 48.1 (2005): 107-23