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Theatre and Social Issues in Malawi: Performers, Audiences, Aesthetics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2009


Theatre workers in the Third World have largely rejected both the outward trappings and the underlying aesthetic assumptions of the colonial styles they first inherited: but the impulse to evolve or rediscover indigenous forms has often involved the imposition of a would-be ‘popular’ theatre form by an elite of university-educated animateurs. David Kerr has described these as ‘induced’ forms, and here analyzes the process by which one such experiment, in Malawi, was both adopted and assimilated by villagers, for the better understanding of whose social problems it was conceived. From 1974 to 1980 David Kerr was artistic director of the Chikwakwa Theatre project in Zambia (described in the first series of Theatre Quarterly, III, No. 10), since when he has been teaching in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts in the University of Malawi, and serving as co-ordinator to the Travelling Theatre project there.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1988

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Notes and References

1. For a full bibliography of the field, see Kidd, Ross, The Performing Arts, Non-formal Education, and Social Change in the Third World: a Bibliography and Review Essay. The Hague: CESO, 1981Google Scholar.

2. Derrida, Jacques, Of Grammatology, trans. Spink, G.C. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), p. 306Google Scholar.

3. Traoré, Mahama, ‘Cinema Must Be a School’, Cinéaste, VI, No. 1, p. 33Google Scholar.

4. Kerr, David, ‘Didactic Theatre in Africa’, Harvard Education Review, LI, No. 1, p. 145–55Google Scholar.