Voyages in postcolonial African and African diasporic Theatre practice

2022 Annual International Conference of the African Theatre Association (AfTA)
Department of Performing Arts Kyambogo University, Kampala, Uganda
A call for conference proposals.

21-23 July 2022
Department of Performing Arts 
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Kyambogo University
Kampala – Uganda

The late colonial and early independence era marked a period of significant development in African theatre in various spheres of professional practice–playwriting, directing, scenography and performance.

This era gave rise to prominent practitioners such as Wole Soyinka, Efua Sutherland and Ola Rotimi in West Africa; John Ruganda, Robert Sserumaga, Byron Kawadwa, Ngugi Wa Thiong, Francis Imbuga in East Africa; Athol Fugard, John Kani, Winston Ntshona, Godfrey Kabwe Kasoma and Steven Chifunyise, in Southern Africa; Tawfiq al-Hakim, Nor’man Asour, fathia al Assal in Northern African and Trevor Rhones and Lorraine Hansbury in the diaspora. 

The contribution of these playwrights was far-reaching. They experimented with the western style to produce masterpieces of theatre. In fact, some of the plays produced by the early post-colonial African theatre practitioners/African diaspora practitioners could rightly be described as African theatre classics.

For example, Robert Serumaga and John Ruganda adopted the psychological and often absurd style to elude the wrath of postcolonial African political tyrants. In his play, Majangwa (1971) Robert Serumaga employs a blend of African lore and Western avant-garde, especially Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco’s Theatre of the Absurd to make a scathing criticism of his society.

Imbuga’s unique style of telling the truth laughingly as reflected in most of his works of art describes a man who employs diction in a way that leaves one laughing and crying at the same time. Rose Mbowa, perhaps, Uganda’s greatest female artist, introduced a fusion of the folklore of her immediate Ugandan communities to make a political commentary on her war ruined Uganda. Her well-travelled play Mother Uganda and Her Children (1987) is a cohesive blend of Ugandan traditional song, mime and dance from different ethnic cultures to articulate a country torn apart by civil strife and political plunder.

In his play The Donkey Market Tawfiq al-Hakim, adopts social comedy to satirise unemployment and the plight of the underdogs of society, in effect discussing themes that transcend his North African society.

The 2022 African Theatre Association Conference aims at making a deeper introspection of post-colonial African and African diasporic theatre practice trends.  It aims to enable conference delegates to assess how far the field has grown and make a forecast for the future. Participants are invited to submit proposals for paper presentations, workshops, performances, play readings, and exhibitions for the conference focusing on, but not limited to the following themes: 

  • The Legacy of a postcolonial African/African diasporic playwright
  • The legacy of a contemporary African/African Diaspora theatre practitioner
  • Style and form in African/African Diaspora Writing
  • African/African Theatre Directors
  • Scenography in African/African Diaspora Theatre
  • Theatre and politics in post-colonial African Theatre
  • African Theatre and African Mysticism
  • Post-colonial theatre and African Orature
  • The changing role of African National Theatres
  • Developments in Africa Applied Practice
  • Contemporary African Theatre and African culture /Folklore
  • African Theatre and Globalism
  • African film/ African diasporic film
  • News trends in African theatre
  • New trends in the theatre of the black diaspora
  • Music composition practices
  • Developments in dance making and performance

The deadline for submission is 14th March 2022. Abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a short 100 words biography should be submitted to the conference team using the email conferences@african-theatre.org

Conference Convener: Dr Keneth Bamuturaki (Head of Department of Performing Arts, Kyambogo University)