South African Performance and Archives of Memory
Book: South African Performance and Archives of Memory
Written by: Yvette Hutchisom
Published by: Manchester University Press 2013
In her book ‘South African Performance and Archives of Memory,’ Yvette Hutchison explores how Post-apartheid South Africa grapples with its past through different forms of performance, embodied repertoires including theatre, folk songs, rituals, public events, and memorial spaces as well as archives. She also discusses the ongoing process of self-definition among South Africans following significant historical events, such as Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and the establishment of a new democratic state in 1994.
Chapter first and second explore the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a performance. It explores the non-verbal aspects of the testimonies, focusing on the gestures, silences, cries, and sighs that conveyed deep memories and traumatic experiences. She examines various artists and practitioner’s response to the TRC like Jane Taylor’s Ubu and the Truth Commision, the Khulamani Group’s The Story I am About to Tell, Miller’s Rewind: A Cantata of Voice, Tape and Testimony, John Kaani’s Nothing but Truth, and others. In chapter third, she explores the reevaluation of the Voortrekker Monuments located in south of Pretoria in South Africa, as a site of memory in the post-apartheid era and draws comparison to Freedom Park, which is closely linked to it. The chapter looks at how moments of political crisis or transition have provoked the mobilisation of specific historical narratives to define national identities. Chapter four examines Mandela’s successor, President Thabo Mbeki’s effort to shape the narrative of South African history. The final chapter surveys key cultural issues such as HIV/AIDS, slavery history and focuses on marginalized populations like black Africans and Cape Coloureds, who have found a presence in the country’s stages during democratic era.
“ The artist can play a particular role in exploring the intersections between history, myth and memory. During the apartheid years culture was mobilised as a ‘weapon’ against the apartheid regime” (p.14).South African Performance and Archives of Memory