Synopses & Reviews
John Conteh-Morgan explores the multiple ways in which African and Caribbean theatres have combined aesthetic, ceremonial, experimental, and avant-garde practices in order to achieve sharp critiques of the nationalist and postnationalist state and to elucidate the concerns of the francophone world. More recent changes have introduced a transnational dimension, replacing concerns with national and ethnic solidarity in favor of irony and self-reflexivity. New Francophone African and Caribbean Theatres places these theatres at the heart of contemporary debates on global cultural and political practices and offers a more finely tuned understanding of performance in diverse diasporic networks.
Conteh-Morgan (Ohio State Univ.) and Thomas (UCLA) investigate key historical periods in the emergence of theater in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, primarily the latter, specifically Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Guyana. They compare theater trends and trace the interaction between the African and Caribbean cultures in their colonial and
postcolonial contexts. The book analyzes how the Francophone Caribbean and African playwrights attempted to redefine theater and rewrite its trajectory and how they strove to undo and surpass their predecessors in order to establish what they deemed 'authentic' theater. It also discusses the debate between the pre-1990s playwrights who were preoccupied with the notion of origin and those in the post-1990s who endeavored to free theater from any particular definition. Addressing an array of significant themes--identity, language, nationalism, postcolonialism, indigenous and European models, tradition, and universalism, among others--this noteworthy addition to the literature challenges the reader to extend the debate on Francophone theater in the age of globalization. An important resource for a broad audience, the book is particularly valuable for its in-depth discussion of a number of Francophone plays. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. --ChoiceH. Bahri, York College, CUNY, June 2011
"John Conteh-Morgan was the preeminent scholar of African theatre in French in the United States. This book establishes the bar (and a high one) for future scholarship on the subject." --Judith G. Miller, New York University Indiana University Press
"An important resource for a broad audience.... Highly recommended." --Choice, June 2011
"In this fascinating and exciting study, the late John Conteh-Morgan succeeded admirably in bringing to Anglophone attention a precious body of Francophone African and Caribbean theater--a rich seam for further enquiry, comparative not least." --New West Indian Guide Indiana University Press
"Here John Conteh-Morgan presents a global strategy--to avoid automatic 'derivational' criticism and to read African theatre in its own right. His discussions of individual plays and playwrights are informative and worthwhile." --Carrol Coates, Binghamton University
"[Conteh-Morgan's] readings are excellent, and his approach will be of interest to anyone studying post-colonial theatres in a global context. By grouping French-language African and Caribbean theatres together in terms of their genealogical history, and investigating their multiple theatrical influences in context, Conteh-Morgan develops a conscientious reading strategy that melds the cultural-political imperative of post-colonial studies with a respect for the limitlessness of artistic genius." --Theatre Research International
About the Author
John Conteh-Morgan (1948-2008) was Professor in the Department of French and Italian at the Ohio State University. He is author of Theatre and Drama in Francophone Africa and editor (with Tejumola Olaniyan) of African Drama and Performance (IUP, 2004).
Dominic Thomas is Chair of the Department of French and Francophone Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is author of Nation-Building, Propaganda, and Literature in Francophone Africa (IUP, 2002) and Black France (IUP, 2006).
Table of Contents
Preface by John Conteh-Morgan and Dominic Thomas
Introduction: Instrumentalizing Performance and the Francophone Postcolonial Performative
1. Cultural Trauma and Ritual Re-membering: Werewere Liking's Les mains veulent dire
2. The Dramatist as Epic Performer: Eugène Dervain's Saran, ou La reine scélérate
3. The Power and the Pleasures of Dramatized Narrative: Bernard Zadi Zaourou's La guerre des femmes
4. Theatre as Writing and Voice: Patrick Chamoiseau's Manman Dlo contre la fée Carabosse
5. Tradition Instrumentalized: Elie Stephenson's O Mayouri
6. Militariat Grotesqueries and Tragic Lament: Tchicaya U Tam'si's Le destin glorieux du Maréchal Nnikon Nniku, prince qu'on sort and Le bal de Ndinga
7. From the Grotesque to the Fantastic: Sony Labou Tansi's Qui a mangé Madame d'Avoine Bergotha?
8. Exile and the Failure of the Nation; or, Diasporic Subjectivity from Below: Simone Schwarz-Bart's Ton beau capitaine
Conclusion: Francophone Theatres in the Age of Globalization