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Ancient, Indigenous, and Modern Plays from Africa and the Diaspora

Simon Gikandi, English; R.N. Sandberg, Lewis Center for the Arts and English; Stacy Wolf, Lewis Cetner for the Arts

Thu, 2/29 · 6:00 pm7:30 pm · Labyrinth Books

Labyrinth Books

The power of theatrical performance is universal, but the style and concerns of theatre are specific to individual cultures. Join us as we celebrate and discuss a new volume in the Global Theatre Perspectives series, which presents a reconstructed ancient performance text, four one-act indigenous African plays and five modern dramas from various regions of Africa and the Caribbean Diaspora.

Because these plays span centuries and are the work of artists from diverse cultures, readers can see elements that occur across time and space. Physicalized ritual, direct interaction with spectators, improvisation, music, drumming, and metaphorical animal characters help create the theatrical forms in multiple plays. Recurring themes include the establishment or challenging of political authority, the oppression or corruption of government, societal expectations based on gender, the complex and transformational nature of identity, and the power of dreams.

Among the creators of the pieces are two Nobel Laureates, those who have been exiled or jailed for the political nature of their work, and the author of his country’s first constitution. The global perspectives approach, letting works from ancient, indigenous, and modern times resonate with each other, encourages thinking across boundaries and connective human understanding.

Simon Gikandi is Professor and Chair of English at Princeton University, where he is also affiliated with the Departments of Comp Lit, African Americna Studies and the Program in African Studies. His many books include Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature; and Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism. He is the coauthor of The Columbia Guide to East African Literature in English since 1945. R. N. Sandberg is a lecturer at the Lewis Center for the Arts and Department of English, Princeton University. Though retired in 2021, he has continued to be affiliated with the Program in Theater, advising and directing student theses. Stacy Wolf is Professor of Theater, Director of Fellowships, and Director of the Program in Music Theater at Princeton University. She is the author of Changed for Good: A Feminist History of Broadway Musical; A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical; and most recently of Beyond Broadway: The Pleasure and Promise of the American Musical.

This event is co-sponsored by Princeton University’s Humanities Council, the Lewis Center for the Arts, the African American Studies Department and the Program in African Studies.

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