Theatre and society in South Africa : some reflections in a fractured mirror

Hauptfleisch, Temple (1997-01)


The debate about the precise relationship between theatre and society is an old and honourable one - whether in terms of the Shakespearean metaphor Oorfles utilizes (along with a vast range of other writers), or in terms of Aristotle's Mimesis, Or Johnson's Nature, Coleridge's Truth, and the many other metaphors used to indicate the representative nature of the arts. The way one perceives this clearly has a great deal to do with who one is and how one has been socialized oneself. It is also clear from even the most superficial reading of the many theorists over the ages, that no-one sees it as a simple, predictable or even dependable relationship, or even a matter of precise unmeditated imitation of an external 'reality'.1 It is too dependent on human beings and their complex and perverse natures to be so. It is also perceived as an 'art' created by an individual'artist' - and the terms art and artist are themselves concepts of some flexibility. But all agree, somewhere along the line, that there is a relationship of some kind between a performance and the socio-cultural context in which it occurs.

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