Theatre in a new democracy : some major trends in South African theatre from 1994 to 2003

Van Heerden, Johann (2008-03)

Thesis (DPhil (Dept. of Drama.Centre for Theatre Research))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.


Following the socio-political change in South Africa after the democratic elections of 1994 the relationship between the state and the arts changed markedly. Whereas, under apartheid, the white population groups benefited greatly from government support for the primarily Eurocentric cultural heritage and the arts, the new South Africa recognised a multi-cultural and multi-lingual population whose every human right was protected under the new Constitution. Under the new government priorities shifted and this resulted in a transformation of the state-subsidised Performing Arts Councils and generally in the financial dynamics of the arts and culture sector. During the first decade of democracy an arts festival circuit emerged which provided opportunities for specific population groups to celebrate their cultural heritage and also for new independent theatre-makers to enter the industry. After the demise of apartheid there was no longer a market for the protest theatre that had become a hallmark of much South African performing arts in the 1970s and 80s and the creative artists had to discover new areas of focus and find alternative creative stimuli. This dissertation identifies and examines a number of major trends that emerged in the professional theatre in post-apartheid South Africa during the first decade of its new democracy.

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