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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

DRAMA IN SOUTH AFRICA (article first published : 1999-09-4)

The University of Durban-Westville’s drama department played a significant role in the recording of the Indian contribution to theatre in South African in a major book that has been recently released on South African drama. The book The Drama of South Africa by Dr Loren Kruger of the University of Chicago, is the first comprehensive account of drama and performance in 20th century South Africa.

It almost did not include any significant mention of South African Indian theatre until Dr Kriben Pillay, general editor of Asoka Theatre Publications, sent Dr Kruger the department’s research output that alerted her to the depth of the Indian contribution. While Dr Kruger admitted that a separate chapter on Indian theatre was needed she was unable to write such a piece given her publishing deadlines. However, she was able to draw attention to the significant works of the pioneering Indian theatre practitioners like Strini Moodley and Ronnie Govender. Featured in the book is a photograph from Pillay’s Looking for Muruga which is to tour India in December.

Drama department head, Robin Singh, said that the book was a much-needed textbook for students of drama and theatre, especially in South Africa. He was also pleased that Dr Kruger has invited staff member Dr Satchu Annamalai, to submit a chapter for another book on theatre that will also look at theatre in the Indian diaspora. Satchu recently completed his doctorate on South African Indian theatre.

It is breakthroughs such as these that place South African theatre in the international world arena that makes the impending closure of the UDW drama department all the more tragic.


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