Some years ago, I interviewed director Janice Honeyman while she and her cast were rehearsing the African Tempest, a co-production of Shakespeare’s play by the Baxter Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Antony Sher was colonialist-mage Prospero, and John Kani was slave-turned-revolutionary (turned forgiving Madiba) Caliban. I had an inkling of the conceptual framing of the production, and — putting my postcolonial scholar’s hat on – ventured to Honeyman that there was a risk that her production, by fitting the play into a paradigm in which African belief systems can accommodate magic and a spirit world lost to secular Westerners, would reinforce the "rational Europe vs irrational Africa" binary. Her reply was not antagonistic, but struck me in its directness: "Academic politics can be anticreative." Sher echoed this view when I pressed him on the topic. "It’s all very well for scholars to comment on these issues, but we’ve got to make the plays work," he said. When the Africa...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now