Collins, Jane (2007) The story of the African choir. [Art/Design Item]
|Type of Research:||Art/Design Item|
This research draws on Dr Veit Erlmann’s illuminating article “Spectatorial Lust’ in Africans on Stage and Jane Collins' own experience of co-directing and touring ‘Mamma Nalukalala N’dezze Lye’ Mother Courage and her Children by Bertolt Brecht, to America and South Africa in the 1990’s. It makes links between the reception of work from Africa in the 19th century and current readings of African work in Europe and America.
The questions it raises are:
• Whether the demands of ‘exportability’ will mean that what comes out of the African continent must increase the appeal to western preconceptions and fantasies?
• Is African performance and specifically black African performance being packaged for western consumption?
I visited South Africa to conduct research during July 2005 and in the summer 2006.
‘The Story of the African Choir,’ was presented at the Market Theatre Laboratory in Johannesburg on Friday April 7th 2006 as a workshop performance to an invited audience. The workshop was funded by the A.H.R.C. and Wimbledon College of Art. A full production of the work was staged at the Grahamstown International Arts Festival in South Africa in July 2007.
Between 1891-1893 a group of young black South Africans toured England, Scotland and Ireland. They were a Christian choir apparently on a mission to raise funds for a technical school in Kimberley however, once in England, a more complex set of motives for the trip emerged. On the tour they struggled to come to terms with the realities of late Victorian Industrial Society which challenged their notions of progress and made them question their own identity as the black educated elite.
The tour failed to make money and as a result they were forced to take radical measures to attract larger audiences. It all ended in disaster with the choir abandoned by their managers and left penniless in a London hotel.
One of their members was the young Charlotte Manye, who eventually went on to found the Bantu Women’s League and became a prominent activist for women’s rights in South Africa. Later in her life she also campaigned vehemently for women to be represented in the newly formed African National Congress.
|Other Corporate or Group Contributors:||
|Additional Information (Publicly available):||
Performance, specifically the relationship between word and image. Collaborative practice, the interface between 'performance art' and 'art performance' as a potential site for the making of new work Re-staging renaissance plays in ways which engage and challenge contemporary audiences. Scenography. New writing. Contemporary African Performance and the reception and perception of work from the continent of Africa on the world stage.
Jane Collins is a Reader in Theatre and Contextual Studies Co-ordinator for Theatre at Wimbledon. She is a writer, Director and theatre maker who works all over the UK and internationally. She has a long association with the continent of Africa and for The Royal Court, with the National Theatre of Uganda, she codirected Maama Nalukalala N_dezze Lye (Mother Courage and her Children) by Bertolt Brecht, with a Ugandan cast in Kampala. This production, which was the first official translation of a play by Brecht into an African language, toured internationally. Her AHRC funded research into 'performing identities' resulted in a new work for the stage The Story of the African Choir which was developed in conjunction with the Market Theatre Laboratory in Johannesburg and performed at the Grahamstown International Festival in 2007. Throughout 2008-09 her research was mainly engaged with co-editing Theatre and Performance Design: a reader in scenography, which was published by Routledge in January 2010. This book, with over 52 texts is the first of its kind in this field. In addition, in 2009, her practice based performance research included re-staging the award winning Ten Thousand Several Doors for the Brighton International Festival. Collins has been asked to contribute an essay on Ten Thousand Several Doors to the forth coming collection Performing Site-Specific Theatre edited by Anna Birch and Joanne Tompkins to be published in late 2011.
|Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed:||performance, theatre, africa, african performance, western preconceptions, video, victorian britain, identity, colonial, costume, audience|
|Your affiliations with UAL:||Colleges > Wimbledon College of Arts|
|Funders:||Arts and Humanities Research Council, Grahamstown International Festival, Wimbledon School Of Arts|
|Locations / Venues:||
|Date Deposited:||27 May 2008 12:04|
|Last Modified:||11 Aug 2014 10:54|
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