The role of theatre practitioners in exploring the past
Dramatising the TRC
Dramatising the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission: the role of theatre
practitioners in exploring the past
Throw a clatter of memories at the mirror of your life and watch the pieces
scatter on the ground. There’s no pattern. They glint in the shadows,
demanding inspection as you hesitate to choose which one you’ll pick up
first. Some pieces choose themselves, however much you try to avoid them.
(Hugh Lewin, 2011: 17)
The end of apartheid brought with it many changes, including changes
to the memories with which we engage. The TRC and
The TRC’s reconfiguring of the past
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s
reconfiguring of the past: remembering
We are charged to unearth the truth about our dark past, to lay the ghosts
of that past so that they will not return to haunt us. And [so] that we will
thereby contribute to the healing of a traumatised and wounded people –
for all of us in South Africa are wounded people – and in this manner to
promote national unity and reconciliation. (Desmond Tutu)1
Because of this very fullness, the hypothetical fullness, of this archive
This book explores the place of memory in post-apartheid South Africa by analysing state sanctioned-performances of the nation. It first explores how the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) archive was created, and what it means to contemporary South Africa. The book then explores creative responses to the TRC. It examines individual narratives that have become iconic; asking why these have been chosen to represent the experiences of the broader majority. It analyses how contemporary cultural practitioners are particularly exploring various non-realistic, highly performative forms in conjunction with verbatim narratives to reflect on diverse lived realities in South Africa. The inherited apartheid archives embody particular narratives of South Africa, especially those that defined separate cultural identities, with their relative worth and histories. The way these archives of memory were constructed and controlled is important, especially insofar as they affected the social structure of the nation, beyond apartheid legislation. The book looks at how at moments of political crisis or transition, specific narratives of history, from particular cultural perspectives, have been performed in public spaces to define national identities. It also explores how Mbeki used the South Africa-Mali project, within the context of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to extend the imagined boundaries of the nation. Finally, the book explores contemporary popular performance and theatrical engagements with history and memory.
do it, something happens to you: you grow. You become a bigger person, able to understand, or reconcile, more. 1
“If you can do it,” Iimmi says, “something happens to you”; the reconciliation of disorder with order occurs both actively and passively. “Reconcile that,” Iimmi suggests, “do it,” and, as a result, “you grow.” Growth figures, here, the imbrication of what you do with what is done to you, the interminable process by which you become at once more complicated and more connected, by which you become, as Iimmi puts it, “bigger.” Now, reconciliation
A little different every time' - Accumulation and repetition in Jack
provides context for its protagonist's eventual return to Gilead: it focuses on his relationship with a young African American schoolteacher, Della Miles, the danger of their courtship in St Louis, and her role in his attempted family reconciliation in Gilead and Home . For Christopher Lloyd, whose essay in this collection considers the links between race, affect, and memory in Home , reading the Gilead novels in sequence deepens each novel's complexity but it also makes them sadder. Jack is no different. Set around 1950, six years before the start of Gilead
class and gender rather than race (Ngcobo 1992 :
167). With the world transfixed upon this experiment in national
‘reconciliation’, part of whose laboratory has been the
national public hearings as well as legal proceedings of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, the social transformation has been constantly
cast in the metaphor of healing a national trauma. As writers who have
been part of that
Inspired by the Greek ‘timeplace’ of the Chthulucene , in which a diachronic entanglement of all earthly existents operate in ways that are non-ideological and non-hierarchal, and within which the human and the non-human live and die with each other as deeply connected ‘mixed assemblages’, Haraway urges a reconciliation and reuniting of the ancient, current, and future beings of the earth, and proposes a harmonious making-of-kin. Yet, written nearly six hundred years prior, the accounts of travel in Book II and the final prayers at the
Civil rights, civil war, and radical transformation in Home and Gilead
means to reconciliation may lie.
Ames is heartened and inspired by Jack's inter-racial family because it helps him to reconcile himself to his grandfather and his grandfather's politics. It is only now that Ames sees ‘the beauty there is’ in Jack (265), and only now does he celebrate the fact that the boy's name is ‘John Ames Boughton’ (276). While Pak reads this as an appropriation of an inter-racial relationship to validate a white father–son bond, Ames's sudden appreciation of the boy's name surely articulates his sense that Jack will someday
of life from her present one (some poor Scotch baronet?) ’. There was coolness and distrust, tears then reconciliation.
Anne Lister continued to employ the language of property with her aunt: ‘ I said I thought the thing would go off—for it seemed as if she could not give up Cliff-hill and I could [not] leave Shibden.…Putting
all on Shibden made my aunt take [it] all right ’.
However it was, of course, the more worldly Mrs Priestley who pieced together a sharper
-running conflict over the borough's governance, and also between Margery and those who reacted adversely to her. Acquiring membership of the rich and powerful guild which had embodied the dominance of the old-style merchant-burgesses, but which now included newly empowered artificer-burgesses and their wives, was, perhaps, an endorsement of Permonter's resolution of conflict in the urban community as well as a personal reconciliation with townsfolk who had been so much against her in the past.