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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Behind the inscrutable wonder: the dramaturgy of the mask performance in traditional African society
Author:Okafor, Chinyere GraceISNI
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Subsaharan Africa
folk drama
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3820356
Abstract:This paper examines the aesthetics that inform the mask performance, a performance which constitutes the 'inscrutable wonder' of the festival theatre in traditional society in Africa. It examines the core of dramatic action, which has three basic elements: performers engaged in mimetic action, spectators, and place of representation. All other elements (music, mask, costume, dance, movements, gestures, and metaphysical elements) might aid the performer's imitative action, but they are extrinsic characteristics that determine the peculiarity of different dramatic traditions. In order to understand the aesthetics of the inscrutable wonder implicit in mask performance, one must regard it as a phenomenon that exists on four levels: an outermost circle represents the social context of the drama (i.e. the society in which it occurs). Following circles represent the performance arena (the theatre) and the supernatural quality. The fourth circle stands for the specific techniques employed. The innermost level embraces the performance itself (the performer-spectator interaction). The influence of the cultural environment on the performer-spectator interaction can be observed in the dramatic techniques that have been derived from the society in which the performance occurs. In mask performances, each contributes to the evocation of the aesthetic awe that is inspired by the totality of the performance as perceived by traditional spectators. Bibliogr.