n African Performance Review - Through other eyes and voices : women in and performances

Volume 1, Issue 2_3
  • ISSN : 1753-5964


In many indigenous African performances while a sizeable number of the characters and the majority of the spectators are female, only men and male actors organise and perform in these theatrical performances. This observation was particularly obvious in the of the Bamana of Mali and performances of the Igbo of Nigeria which I studied recently. This paper's main argument is that theatrical performances are very much part of the cultural and social processes of society and they are therefore implicated in the politics of identity and its representation in society. Thus, the marginalisation of women in most spheres of public life in Bamana and Igbo societies is graphically reflected in the fact that in the two performances, women remain on the sidelines, on the receiving end of male articulations of male and other identities. Women's views, their identities and the power to occupy and thus speak from the public domain and space are denied and usurped by the dominant male 'Other' who uses this power to maintain hold on power. The paper concludes therefore that very often a theatrical performance is a good indicator and a reflection of the culture or society from which it originates, and that perhaps changing the mechanics and dynamics of performance may be the way to change the mechanics and dynamics of society.

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