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Alkazi Theatre Archives

A Bibliographic Listing from the Archive

Post-Colonial Drama: Theory, Practices, Politics

Book: Post-Colonial Drama: Theory, Practices, Politics
Written by:Helen Gilbert and Tompkins
Published by: Routledge, 1996

The book, ‘Post-colonial Drama: Theory, Practice, Politics’ studies the intertwined relation between performance practices and theatre and its intersections and role in the understanding of post-colonial theories. Considering plays from Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Africa, South-East Asia, and the Caribbean, the book presents postcolonialism as a site of inquiry and a cultural strategy. Producing a detailed engagement with postcolonial theories and what ‘postcolonialism’ means, Gilbert and Tompkins define postcolonial performance as— “acts that directly or indirectly respond to imperialism; acts performed for the continuation and/or regeneration of the colonized communities; acts performed with the awareness of, and sometimes the incorporation of, post-contact forms; and acts that interrogate the hegemony that underlies imperial representation” (p.11).The book delves into a variety of frameworks with every chapter such as ‘Re-citing the classics: Canonical Counter Discourse’, ‘Traditional Enactments: Ritual and Carnival’, ‘Post-colonial Histories, ‘The Language of Resistance’, ‘Body Politics’, and ‘Neo Imperialisms’. In the first chapter, the authors argue that Canonical Counter-Discourse is one method by which colonized cultures can refuse the seamless contiguity between a classical past and a postcolonial present that the empire strives to preserve (p.51). Further, the book extends Soyinka and other theorists’ work on ritual and carnival and their use in the play in the context of Africa and Caribbean theatre. For authors, “the representation of ritual and carnival through drama establishes the umbilical link between art and tradition that is necessary for decolonisation” (p.100).

“ post-colonial histories attempt to tell the other sides of a story….The empirical historical method that explorers, missionaries, and settlers brought to colonial territories is thus rejected as inappropriate for recording events in time and space, and as inadequate for marking harvest seasons, weather patterns, and wildlife tracking” (p.107)

Post-Colonial Drama-Theory, Practices, Politics