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Title:Repression and comedic performances: Kamuzu Banda's rule and Kwathu's 'Ku Chipatala' and Umodzi's 'Akapasule'
Author:Magalasi, MufunanjiISNI
Periodical:African Performance Review
Geographic term:Malawi
popular culture
Abstract:In this article the author focuses on re-reading what in African theatre and drama is described as 'radical', 'relevant' or 'committed' productions versus the so-called 'escapist' and 'mere entertainment' commercially staged comedies. Without undermining their standing, the author recasts the politically justified debate about 'committed theatre', using philosophical positions of postcolonialists such as Achille Mbembe, Terence Ranger, Francois Bayart and James Scott, before re-reading the so-called 'escapist' comedies to disclose their commitment. He applies the reading on Malawian 'escapist' comedy produced at the birth of Malawian popular stage drama during the height of Banda's dictatorship in the early 1980s. Utilizing in particular one of Kwathu Drama Group's earliest Chichewa plays, 'Ku Chipatala' (At the Hospital), and Umodzi Drama Group's 'Akapasule' (Marriage Breaker), he concludes that these comedies, although popular, were also radical, in that they were a 'weapon of the weak' (Bayart) in a fight against oppression. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]