Absurd theatre in South Africa

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In South African drama the absurdity of the human condition features strongly in a wide range of plays from the 1960's onward, though not always as abstractly as in the case of the examples mentioned by Esslin and others in their discussions of the abvsurdist theatre. Interestingly enough it seems it was the Afrikaans writers who were most specifically and directly influenced by Sartre, Camus and the existentialist movement and sought to emulate Beckett and others at the formal level. Notable among them are André P. Brink - especially the collection called Bagasie ("Baggage") and Elders mooiweer en warm, Chris Barnard (Pa, maak vir my 'n vlieër, pa and Die rebellie van Lafras Verwey), George Louw (**) and Bartho Smit (Putsonderwater, Christine, Die Keiser). Some plays by Athol Fugard (e.g. Hello and Goodbye and Boesman and Lena), P.G. du Plessis (Nag van Legio, Plaston) have strong existential properties amidst a general focus on the detail of realism and a more positive humanist perspective. So too the works of Zakes Mda (Dead End and We Shall Sing for the Fatherland ) and Maishe Maponya (Dirty work and Gangsters) echo of formal absurdism and display an external cynicism, but are all rooted in a clear socio-political commitment. The first work of Charles Fourie also has its roots in a rediscovery of the "absurd" by the students youth of the 1980's, but he rapidly moved on. By the post apartheid period, new writers surfaced, who also seem to tap into an absurdist style and mode - among them ***. (LO) (See Brink, 1978, Conradie, 1992, Haffter, 1992, Odendaal, 1978.)

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