Disrupting historical mis-representations and constructions: Talawa Theatre, Tiata Fahodzi and representations of polyphonic Africa on contemporary London stage
Other TitlesAfrica on the Contemporary London Stage
AbstractHistorically, the representations of Africa on the London stage mirror the prevailing socio-political conditions of different periods of Africa-British encounters. Each period is characterised by a distinctive socio-culturally motivated system of thought that both defined and shaped the resulting encounters. In the words of art critic and novelist David Dabydeen, early representations of Africa on the London stage showed an Africa many would not recognise today; theatrically Africa was cast as under-developed, a curiosity and aesthetic foil in which the humanity of the characters and continent were effaced. After WW2, Africa and Black were rolled into one socio-cultural category globally and remained that way from the late 1950s to the early days of postcolonial writings when playwrights and critics such as Wole Soyinka, Athol Fugard, and Stuart Hall began to de-stabilize cultural classifications about monolithic Africa and Black cultures. The subsequent rise of issue-based theatre companies and small venues hosting and producing a more mixed offering of plays on Africa and African characters led to a significant shift in representations of Africa on the London stage, enabling outfits such as Talawa and Fahodzi Theatres and a newer generation of playwrights such as Maria Oshodi, Tunde Ikoli, Dipo Agboluaje to highlight a wide range of characters and different African and Black British cultural nationalities on London stages.
CitationUkaegbu V (2018) 'Disrupting historical mis-representations and constructions: Talawa Theatre, Tiata Fahodzi and representations of polyphonic Africa on contemporary London stage', in Morosetti T (ed(s).). Africa on the Contemporary London Stage, edn, Cham, Switzerkand: Palgrave Macmillan pp.149-166.