Lecture Series: Postcolonial Theatre, The Goldsmiths Centre for Comparative Literature (online), May 5, 19, 26, 2022

This series of 3 talks by members of the Goldsmiths Department of Theatre and Performance will examine how contemporary theatre from the UK, USA, France and West Africa is staging legacies of colonial history in postcolonial societies today.

The series, starting in May 2022, will bring together Clare Finburgh Delijani, Tiziana Morosetti and Sola Adeyemi.

All talks will be online and will start at 6pm.

Booking will be free but is necessary to receive a link to attend. 

For more information and booking visit: https://sites.gold.ac.uk/comparative-literature/the-ccl-postcolonial-theatre-series-may-20

5 May 2022‘Hear the Bones Sing’: Postcolonial Ghost Plays. A talk by Clare Finburgh-Delijani

What can ghosts teach us about how to live together in postcolonial societies such as the UK or France?

Clare Finburgh Delijani’s paper examines how a range of playwrights on both sides of the Atlantic are evoking colonial pasts, and their impact on the present, via ghosts. Revenants in these plays return to demand repair for injustices perpetrated in the past. At the same time, spectres create a doubling, the indeterminacy of which troubles monocultural notions of national identity, instead proposing postcolonial societies as a multi-ethnic and multidenominational.

Professor Clare Finburgh Delijani, Deputy Director of the CCL, is a researcher and teacher in the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths University of London. She has written and edited many books and articles on theatre from France, the French-speaking world and the UK, including a special issue of Théâtre/Public on the Situationist International (2019), The Great Stage DirectorsLittlewood, Planchon, Strehler(2018, with Peter Boenisch), Watching War on the Twenty-First-Century Stage: Spectacles of Conflict (2017), Rethinking the Theatre of the Absurd: Ecology, the Environment and the Greening of the Modern Stage (2015, with Carl Lavery) and Jean Genet (2012, with David Bradby). She is currently writing a book on theatre in France that addresses the nation’s colonial past, and multi-ethnic present.

The talk will be chaired by Mairi Neeves, Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London. Mairi’s work includes We are all Rwandans (as production manager; 2008), winner of Best World Cinema Short, Phoenix International Film Festival 2008; the documentary on Apartheid in Israel/Palestine Hidden From View (as co-director/producer; 2007);and the feature length documentary on extreme global poverty 58 – The Film (as writer, assistant director/producer; 2011).

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19 May 2022. Reimagining the Victorian Past in African and in Black Diasporic Theatre. A talk by Tiziana Morosetti

Several African American and Black British playwrights have engaged in the past 25 years with material from the Victorian past. If issues of slavery and segregation have been at the forefront, aligning theatre to neo-Victorian and neo-Slavery narratives, Black playwrights have also engaged with specific figures from the long 19th century. Tiziana Morosetti’s paper will consider recent Black British plays that specifically engage with the Victorian past and will compare them to two Nigerian examples that display similar engagement. The paper will argue these examples, while displaying a closer focus on African history and overall different aesthetics, complement the vision of Black British playwrights by commenting on, and proposing counter-narratives to, the relation between Black cultures and white British power during the reign of Victoria.

Dr Tiziana Morosetti is an Associate Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is also an affiliate to the African Studies Centre, Oxford. She works on representations of race, Blackness and diversity on the 19th-century and contemporary British stage; and on Black drama, especially African. She is the editor of Staging the Other in Nineteenth-century British Drama (Peter Lang 2016), Africa on the Contemporary London Stage (Palgrave 2018) and, with Osita Okagbue, The Palgrave Handbook of Theatre and Race (2021). She is the General Secretary of the African Theatre Association UK (AfTA) and the co-founder and deputy director of the journal Quaderni del ’900.

Tiziana’s talk will be chaired by Lynette Goddard, Professor of Black Theatre and Performance at Royal Holloway, University of London. Their research focuses on documenting and analysing the contemporary histories of contemporary Black British theatre by looking at the politics of representation and the careers of performers, playwrights and directors. As well as numerous articles and chapters, they have published two full-length monographs Staging Black Feminisms: Identity, Politics, Performance (Palgrave, 2007) and Contemporary Black British Playwrights: Margins to Mainstream (Palgrave, 2015), one shorter book, Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (Routledge, 2017), and co-edited Modern and Contemporary Black British Drama (Palgrave, 2014). They selected and introduced the plays for The Methuen Drama Book of Plays by Black British Writers (2011) and wrote introductions for Mojisola Adebayo Plays One (Oberon, 2011) and Mojisola Adebayo Plays Two (Oberon, 2019). They are currently co-editing the anthology Black British Queer Plays and Practitioners (Methuen) and the two-volume Routledge History of Contemporary British Theatre.

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26 May 2022. Refracted from the Canon: The Transmuted Form of Europe’s Ambassador to Africa. A talk by Sola Adeyemi

In this presentation, Sola Adeyemi will explore the idea of tragedy from the perspective of Yoruba culture, framing this exploration from the refracted premise of classical European canon and how the meaning of tragedy has been altered to become part of the arsenal of anticolonial agency as deployed to the consecrated ritual space of the Yoruba people of West Africa. Focusing on the re-reading – or re-interpretation – of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarkand Euripides’ Bacchae, the talk aims to show that the process of re-interpreting the essence of the canonical god in the new space of Yoruba culture, or of translating the attributes with a new understanding and awareness, is more dialectical and more interwoven than the historical or anthropological process of re-working canonical texts by African writers.

Dr Sola Adeyemi is a Visiting Lecturer at Goldsmiths and a Lecturer in Drama at the University of East Anglia. His researches are in world theatre and performance studies, African Literary Studies, and postcolonial literature and theatre (and the themes of decolonial and Global South studies). He is the author of Vision of Change in African Drama: Deconstructing Identity and Reconfiguring History (2019). Currently, he is working on ‘Dramatizing the Postcolony: Nigerian Drama and Theatre. His latest research is on performances after apartheid in South Africa and in Nigeria after the military dictatorship morphed into situations of ‘undeclared’ pre-colonial feudalistic insurrections, titled “Laughing from Both Barrels: New Satire in Modern African Performances”.

Sola’s talk will be chaired by Professor Samuel Kasule. Professor Kasule holds a BA in English and Drama and Diploma in Education from Makerere University, Uganda, and MA in Theatre Studies and PhD in Drama and Theatre from the University of Leeds. He is a founding member of the African Theatre Association and founding Reviews Editor of African Performance Review (APR). He was the President of the African Theatre Association between 2014 and 2020. His latest work (with Osita Okagbue) is Theatre and Performance in East Africa (London: Routledge, 2021)

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