Theatre, Performance and Representation: African Diasporic Identity on the British Stage

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Ekumah-Asamoah, Rachel Ekua
  • Publisher: Goldsmiths, University of London

The focus of this thesis is the performance of African diasporic identities through a unique theatre emerging from the second and third generations of peoples and communities of the African Diaspora in Britain. The politics, the dynamics, articulation and representation of these identities on the British stage, forms a major part of this investigation, which also goes beyond the stage to comment on British society itself.\ud \ud The discipline of theatre and performance are appropriate vehicles to research the notion of African diasporic identity because they continue to be an essential part of any nation’s cultural discourse on who, what and why they are. Nadine Holdsworth argues that theatre at a basic level is: \ud \ud intrinsically connected to nation because it enhances “national” life by providing a space for shared civil discourse… Theatre as a material, social and cultural practice, offers the chance to explore histories, behaviours, events and preoccupations in a creative communal realm that opens up potential for reflection and debate. (2010, p. 6)\ud \ud The relationship between the current context of Britain and an emotional or physical link to Africa or the Caribbean and the negotiations that characterize that relationship underpin the examination of the constantly shifting diasporic identities in this study. The theatre coming from these African diaspora communities is exhibiting characters on the British stage that are a reflection of African diasporic individuals who are no longer agreeing to be confined to the margins of society by claiming their rightful place in the public domain, in the centre themselves. The theatre is reflecting that by beginning to move outside the confines of the margins.\ud \ud This investigation looks at a spectrum of African diasporic dramatists and theatre companies, examining how they use the theatre to explore the complex, multifaceted and subtly layered identities that the African in the diaspora has become, whilst revealing whether the current prominence of African diasporic dramatists in the mainstream is only perceived or confirm that indeed African diasporic identity has claimed the space to articulate being ‘here’ and also relating to ‘there.'
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