Performing Asylum. Theatre of Testimony in South Africa

Cover Performing AslylumThis book is based on Pedzisai Maedza's Master's thesis 'Theatre of testimony: An investigation in devising asylum', winner of the 2014 African Thesis Award. With this annual award for Master students the ASCL encourages student research and writing on Africa and promotes the study of African cultures and societies.

The use of testimonies in performance is enjoying increased artistic and critical popularity and has a long and rich tradition on South African stages. Both internationally and locally, emerging and established playwrights working on migration and refugee issues are seeking to incorporate the testimony of asylum seekers into their work. This necessitates a critical reflection of the influences that shape and structure the staging of these testimonies. This study argues that increased migration and the growing number of asylum seekers arriving on South African shores, has motivated at times violent interaction between host communities and the newcomers. These incidents have inspired a distinct trend of testimonial performances around the concept of asylum. This study uses narrative analysis to read examples of contemporary theatre of testimony plays that examine this phenomenon. It examines how playwright positioning informs the structuring of asylum testimonies on stage, in addition to contextualizing the ethical and moral complexities the playwright’s positionality places on their practice. Through three case studies, the study interrogates how playwright positioning informs notions of authorship, authenticity, truth, theatricality and ethics. Furthermore, it investigates the challenges that speaking for ‘self’ and speaking for the ‘other’ place on testimonial playwrights.

This book has been published as volume 66 of the African Studies Collection.

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Author(s) / editor(s)

Pedzisai Maedza

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Pedzisai Maedza is a theatre maker and academic from Zimbabwe. He is currently a Canon Collins Scholars’ Scholar reading for a PhD in Drama at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His research explores performances of collective remembering of unacknowledged genocides in Sub-Saharan Africa. He holds a Master’s in Drama (University of Cape Town) and a Bachelor’s degree (Honours) in Theatre Arts (University of Zimbabwe) both awarded with distinction. His work also received the International Federation for Theatre Research New Scholars Award 2014.

How to order

This book can be ordered from the ASCL webshop.
Price: € 15,-
ISBN: 978-90-5448-157-7