Performing Christ : a South African protest play and the theological dramatic theory of Hans Urs von Balthasar

Havenga, Marthinus Johannes (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In the latter part of the 20th century, against the backdrop of incidents such as the Sharpeville Massacre and the Soweto Uprising, theatre became one of the principal means of ‘artistic resistance’ in apartheid South Africa. An important play from this time was a work titled Woza Albert!, which was created and performed by the actor-duo Percy Mtwa and Mbogeni Ngema in 1981, with the help and creative input of the renowned theatre-maker and political activist, Barney Simon. What made this piece of protest theatre so powerful and provocative was the fact that it retold the Christ-narrative, as found in the Gospels, in the context of apartheid South Africa, with Jesus, or Morena (as he is called in Sesotho), arriving at the Pass Office in Albert Street, Johannesburg, to preach the Good News to the poor and to liberate the oppressed, who were suffering under the apartheid regime. This dissertation will aim to provide a theological reading of this important protest play, informed by the theological dramatic theory of the Swiss Catholic theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar. It will begin by conducting an investigation into the nature, task, and scope of theology, before offering an extensive engagement with Balthasar’s theological dramatic theory, as developed in his five-volume work, Theo-drama (the second installment of his trilogy on ‘beauty’, ‘goodness’, and ‘truth’). This will be followed by an exploration of the history of (protest) theatre in South Africa, and a discussion of how Woza Albert! came into being. Balthasar’s theological dramatic theory will then be used to give a theological reading of the play.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die tweede helfte van die 20ste eeu, teen die agtergrond van gebeure soos die Sharpevilleslagting en die Soweto-opstande, was teater een van die vernaamste maniere waarop die kunste weerstand teen apartheid in Suid-Afrika gebied het. ‘n Belangrike protes-toneelstuk wat in hierdie tydperk die lig gesien het, was ‘n werk getiteld Woza Albert!, wat in 1981 deur Percy Mtwa en Mbogeni Ngema, met die hulp en kreatiewe inset van die bekende dramaturg en politieke aktivis Barney Simon, geskep en opgevoer is. Wat hierdie protes-teaterstuk so treffend gemaak het, was die feit dat dit die Christusverhaal, soos dit in die Evangelies vervat is, in die konteks van apartheid oorvertel het, met Jesus, of Morena (soos hy in Sesotho genoem word), wat onverwags by die Paskantoor in Albertstraat, Johannesburg, opdaag om die Goeie Nuus aan diegene wat onder die apartheidsregime ly, te verkondig. Hierdie doktorale verhandeling het ten doel om ‘n teologiese lees van hierdie belangrike protesteaterstuk te bied, wat deur die teologiese dramatiese teorie van die Switserse Katolieke teoloog Hans Urs von Balthasar geïnformeer is. Eerstens, sal daar ondersoek na die aard, taak, en omvang van teologie ingestel word, waarna Balthasar se teologiese dramatiese teorie, soos dit in sy vyf-volume werk Theo-drama (die tweede gedeelte van sy trilogie aangaande ‘skoonheid’, ‘goedheid’, en ‘waarheid’) ontwikkel is, onder die loep geneem sal word. Hierna sal die geskiedenis van (protes) teater in Suid-Afrika, asook die agtergrond van die toneelstuk Woza Albert!, bespreek word. Laastens sal Balthasar se teologiese dramatiese teorie as lens aangewend word om ‘n teologiese lees van Woza Albert! weer te gee.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106182
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