Cultural Boycott

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See also Cultural Struggle

Cultural boycott


Playwrights’ boycott

Origins and aims

A large number of international playwrights heeded Athol Fugard’s call for them to refuse to have their plays performed in South Africa, as part of the general cultural boycott against the country. It resulted in a 1963/**?? declatration by 276 playwrights issued through the Anti-Apartheid Movement in which they refused rights to “any theatre where discrimination is made among audiences on the grounds of colour”. The aim of this was to put pressure on the government of the country to change its discrimnatory laws.


However, in many ways the playwrights' boycott (and indeed the general cultural boycott) it had another set of effects. On the positive side it opened up the way for a local playwriting tradition in English to develop, since playwrights were not competing with the international writers anymore and producers needed new work. It also increased the use of workshop and improvisatory theatre-making processes, a fundamental strategy in the theatre of the cultural struggle and thus led to the development of a uniquely South African style of performance. On the negative side it was stifling the creative growth of many local writers and performers in many ways by cutting them and their works off from the international mainstream, a matter of such concern that by 1966??** Fugard was asking the international community to reverse its decision – but by then attitudes had hardened and few actually responded to the new call.

End of the boycott

It was only in the late 1980’s and beginning of the 1990’s that most rights could again be obtained. After 1994 international rights were all available once more and a flood of formerly prohibited works had their first performances in South Africa.


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