THE THEATER OF AFRICA: An Introduction by Lee Warren


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In a companion to his insightful and enlightening Music of Africa (1970) and Dance of Africa (1973), Warren introduces the more eclectic African drama. Not an indigenous art form in a culture where the line between performer and audience has always been a thin one, it is instead a synergistic blend of traditional storytelling and ritual with the didactic ""opera"" and concert forms introduced by European missionaries. Thus in Nigeria traveling folk opera companies perform in Yoruba, English and pidgin (an excerpt, in English, from Ogunmola's ground breaking Palmwine Drinkard [sic] is appended); in Ghana, traveling concert ""trios"" can include any number of performers (but there is always a guitarist named Bob and a female impersonator); and university-based companies fuse Western style proscenium theater with African song, dance, storytelling and mime. As audience participation dies hard, Warren considers spectator behavior as well, musing on the puzzling and, to us, inappropriate habit of laughing uproariously at the most tragic moments; and he notes in passing such offstage customs as the troupes' manager/directors' way of marrying their actresses (Ogunmola had four wives) to keep them in the company. The Theater of Africa gives us an inviting glimpse of a vital, still forming art--and an engaging view of its practitioners.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1976
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Prentice Hall