Historicizing Anglophone theater in postcolonial South Africa: Select political and protest plays


  • C. Jayathilake University of Sri Jayewardenepura


This article explores the ways in which Anglophone dramas in postcolonial South Africa became a tool of political and protest theater. It examines the emergence of Anglophone theater, explores its development into political praxis and discusses the performance or non-performance contexts, as well as their specific socio-political milieux, with reference to the select plays from South Africa. These plays are compelling as they characterize specific tensions internal to South Africa, while alluding to colonial legacies and global coercion. Historicization is a crucial phase in this study and the key part of the methodology that establishes their political and aesthetic significance, both at the time of performance and after. The central argument of the article is that Anglophone theater of South Africa is subjected to – and bound by – socio-political and cultural dynamics of the country; the emergence of political and protest theater is often caused by subtle or overt subterfuges of biopolitics exercised internally within this postcolonial territory.

KEYWORDS: Postcolonial Drama, Athol Fugard, Sizwe Bansi is Dead, The Island, Mbongeni Ngema, Asinamali