A History of Theatre in Africa by Martin Banham

By Martin Banham

Supplying a entire account of an extended and sundry chronicle, this background of theater in Africa is made out of essays written through students within the box. The insurance is geographically huge and contains an exam of the thoughts of "history" and "theater" in Africa; North Africa; Francophone theatre; Anglophone West Africa; East Africa; Southern Africa; Lusophone African theatre; Mauritius and Reunion; in addition to the African diaspora.

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Often singers, musicians, dancers and street entertainers would have a regular circuit and calendar of events that would take them up and down the country. These were linked to the enormous movements of pilgrims celebrating local and national moulids – festivals commemorating the birthday of a holy man or woman centred on their relics, tombs, mausoleums or mosques. Moulids were first introduced by the Fatimids but later took on an atmosphere of their own and are still widely celebrated, though with not quite the same elaboration and classless participation as in the past.

In the great houses and palaces singers, almahs – the name signifies they were trained and could instruct – and musicians often performed behind a screen or in a separate room divided from the courtyard or grand hall, and were watched from behind screens on the floor above by the women of the house. They would be hired to entertain at domestic festivities, to entertain a party of men, or to perform in front of a house as part of wedding festivities. They would also entertain at all the great events and at the moulids, when they would perform in the streets or in tents.

After the revolution of  when the monarchy and the British influence were removed from Egypt, the leaders of the newly independent socialist state, the intellectuals and performers who had long been calling for the overthrow of the old r´egime, came together in a new flourishing of the theatre. A new generation of writers, actors, directors and critics all contributed to this new wave, backed by state support in setting up new theatre companies and providing new playhouses that were often converted cinemas.

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