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Deconstructing the Native/Imagining the Post-Native: Race, Culture and Postmodern Conditions in Brett Bailey’s ‘plays of miracle and wonder’.

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This dissertation combines African philosophical discourses with perspectives on cultural performativity to explore the theme of ‘deconstructing the native’ and ‘imagining the postnative’ through theatre. The dissertation consists of two main parts, a theoretical and a ‘practical’ section. The latter consists of ideas on how to translate the insights gained from the theory section into a strategy for making theatre. The theory section focuses on the aesthetically groundbreaking early works of South African theatre director Brett Bailey (Chapter 1), and their relevance to themes of African philosophy (Chapter 2). Using the concept of ‘engendering space’ as a point of contact between African discourse and theatre praxis, I show how Bailey’s theatre engendered a physical and metaphysical space in which to deconstruct the native and imagine the post-native. I consequently argue that Bailey’s aesthetic revolution has immense political and ethical consequences for contemporary African society. I imagine what these consequences are by deconstructing the cultural and moral discourse generated through critical and public responses to Bailey’s often controversial work. The practical section comprises an academically extended version of the professional theatre project proposal for my play, Hondo Love Story, which will be staged subsequent to this dissertation. The contents of the section include my strategy for engendering an aesthetic space similar, but not identical, to that of Bailey’s plays (Chapter 3). The similarities include aspects of form, theme and content, which I imagine may result in Hondo Love Story having a similar relevance to the theme of deconstructing the native and imagining the post-native through theatre. While I do not systematically deconstruct the play to fully elucidate this, I explain (Chapter 4) the more ‘intellectual’ aspects of content such as historical subtext and psycho-mythical narratives underlying story structure and characterisation. The complete script for the play is appended.


Thesis (M.A.) - University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2009.


Black theatre--South Africa., Theatre--South Africa., Theses--Drama and performance studies.