Arifani Moyo – Place Imaging in South African Dance-Musical Theatre

Event Date: 25 May 2012
MY120 Avenue Campus
University of Northampton

Seeing and Being Seen: Postcolonial Visual Culture and Performance

The University of Northampton is proud to present an exciting day of postcolonial performance, poetry and visual culture at Avenue Campus, School of the Arts.

The Seeing and Being Seen: Postcolonial Visual Culture and Performance Symposium will be convening at 10:30 am and starting at 11:00am, the day will begin with the unique opportunity of hearing Karthika Naїr and Slam poet Polarbear discussing their innovative and prestigious 2012 Laurence Olivier award winning dance production, ‘Desh’ before moving on to a presentation by performance artists, Dr Mark James Hamilton and Rosanna Raymond.

Themes relating to postcolonial cinema, theatre and visual culture will also be addressed by among others, Professors Dominic Alessio and Patrick Williams as well as by exciting upcoming scholars, Arifani Moyo (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Anna Maria Everding (University of Northampton).

Arifani Moyo – Place Imaging in South African Dance-Musical Theatre

The paper discusses the performativity of ‘place imaging’ in post-apartheid South African dance-musical theatre. The paper draws on sociological critiques that define place imaging as a representational practice that is indispensable to South African cultural tourism and heritage industries delimited by the global political economy. The perspective, approach and concerns of performance theory serve to enhance the existing discussion on place imaging by closely considering the live embodiment of concepts of country and populace. While a marginal commodity, theatre has specific effects and potentials that, when properly harnessed, demonstrate significant agency within the symbolic and affective economy of national aspirations. Such effects and potentials converge around and through the kinetic and aesthetic human body as the focal mode of signification for conventional dance-musical theatre. South African place imaging for tourism and heritage industries encompasses a spectrum of visual subjects, including landscape, nature, history, civil space, culture and people. Although theatre as a medium is versatile enough to deal with all of these, the simplest to theatricalise are the interrelated subjects of people and culture. The most commercially successful example, which also won considerable institutional acclaim, is Richard Loring’s African Footprint (1999 – present), a branded national pageant celebrating the history of indigenous South African traditional and modern dance, music, rhetoric and spirituality. Through a discussion of both the content and contexts of the show, I argue that the subject of cultural indigeneity has been the thematic priority of what has become the most effectual theatrical exercise in South African place imaging.

Arifani Moyo is a PhD candidate in the Department of Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. He previously studied Drama and Performance at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. His previous theoretical work focused on the avant-garde theatre of prominent South African director-designer, Brett Bailey, and its relevance to African postcolonial intellectual controversies. His current work looks at South African musical theatre and its relevance to the subject of indigeneity. This work is part of and funded by the multidisciplinary ERC research project, Indigeneity in the Contemporary World: Politics, Performance, Belonging, led by Professor Helen Gilbert at the Centre for International Theatre and Performance Research.






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