The Larger Stages: The 'Becoming Minor' of South African Theatres.
ABSTRACT The Larger Stages: The Becoming ‘Minor’ of South African Theatres. By Jill Planche South Africa is layered with entangled histories that have created a fragile landscape of ambiguities where fractured memories are revealed yet remain concealed. The social architecture of apartheid still persists in a legacy of hostile urban geographies and land inequity, while global capitalism and economic disparity are seen in the dramatic contrast between the developing middle class and the poverty of millions. This research project interrogates the way in which contemporary theatre in South Africa is implicated in the country's complex cultural, economic and social realities. Pursuing rigorous qualitative research in the history, practice and criticism of South African theatre; contemporary studies in theatre spatiality; and philosophy, cultural theory and human geography, I explore precisely whose voices are being heard and which audiences are being reached. What role does – and might – theatre play in addressing South Africa’s socio-economic and artistic challenges, both as a barrier and a bridge to audiences? Drawing on the work of such thinkers as Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Rosi Braidotti and Achille Mbembe, can we anticipate what we might describe as a ‘minor’ theatre that will tell the stories that resonate twenty years after the end of apartheid? The term ‘minor’ refers to the Deleuzian concept of affirmative and dynamic processes to create new political subjects; processes of “becoming” that break from the fixed, proscribed “being,” which in the South African context has been created by centuries of colonialism and decades of state-imposed racial construction. Given the insights afforded by such theorization, I argue that the spaces of performance are potentially dynamic spaces of intersection within this landscape of layered socio-economic and artistic challenges created by a milieu of rooted physical and mental boundaries that have informed the country’s inherited theatrical practices.