BA Drama

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Postcolonial African Theatres

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM33541
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Theatre and performance traditions in Africa have long provided a means through which to experience more than a century of colonial rule – an era of imperial domination that is characterised by colonial policies and practices and their marginalising effects on the continent. This course focuses on how the cultural power of African theatres is forged to resist various types of social and political exclusions. Drawing on selected play-texts and performances in Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, the course explores the ways in which Postcolonial theatres foster new strategies of resistance, animate new identities and facilitate social inclusiveness in the global context. While the course draws attention to the overarching postcolonial conditions that undergird these expressive cultures, it also seeks to illuminate the national and ethnic patterns and divergences in ways that highlight the complexities of the African performance forms. In so doing, the course offers intersections and connections in postcolonial African theatres to pose representational and performative questions : questions about agency and subjectivity as well as questions about language, identity, nationhood and subalternity.


· To introduce students to select African dramatists and their works as basis for exploring the range of dramatic and theatrical responses to colonial history and experience.

· To explore how Africa is re-asserting her aesthetic and cultural values in theatre and drama against systemic forms of marginalisation

· To develop a critical framework for discerning blueprints of dramaturgy that may be observed in these works.

· To discuss and debate ways in which postcolonial theatres extensively contribute to the canons of World theatre

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this module, students are expected to:

Be equipped with an understanding of the works of postcolonial African dramatists

· Be familiar with the trends and development of African theatre and drama

· Have gained analytical and theoretical insight, as well as interpretative competence of African theatrical culture in the postcolonial context.

Intellectual skills

· Develop intellectual facility to critique key African theatre, drama and literary texts in written and spoken forms.

· Sufficiently locate postcolonial plays and performances within broad social, political and economic superstructures, as well as identify the structures of power that produce and reinforce these works.

· Develop critical strategies for in-depth evaluation of African theatres, and to articulate such through effective contribution to seminars.

Practical skills

· Read critically and extensively around different forms of text – especially play/performance texts.

· Engage with a range of important secondary sources.

· Develop sufficient level of writing and oral skills for seminar presentation

Transferable skills and personal qualities

· Demonstrate an ability to work and solve problems with interdisciplinary dimensions.

· Demonstrate skills and knowledge necessary to undertake independent learning.

· Demonstrate ability to work effectively in developing self-sustaining arguments, drawing on critical concepts, theories, and ideas that appeal to disciplines of artistic and cultural knowledge.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Advanced ability for critical thinking in relational and multidisciplinary contexts
Group/team working
Advanced confidence in group/team work skills
Advanced level of research skills
Advanced ability for critical engagement with creative resources

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Oral assessment/presentation 40%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Group presentation – written


Essay – written


Consultation – oral


Recommended reading


  • Achebe, Chinua. ‘The Language of African Writer and the English’ in Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (eds.). Colonial Discourse and Post- Colonial Theory: A Reader. Harvester/ Wheat Sheaf: New York, London, Toronto, Sidney, Tokyo and Singapore, 1994: pp.428-455.
  • Fanon, Franz. The Wretched of the Earth. Penguin,1965
  • Gilbert, Helen. ‘General Introduction.’ in Helen Gilbert (ed.). Postcolonial Plays: An Anthology. London: Routledge, 2001: pp. 1-9
  • Gilbert, Helen and Joanne Tompkins.  ‘Introduction: Re-Acting (to) Empire’ in Helen Gilbert and Joanne Tompkins (eds.). Postcolonial Drama. Routledge,1996:  pp.1-14.
  • Said, W. Edward. Orientalism.  Penguin Books: London, 1978
  • Soyinka, Wole. Myth, Literature and the African World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976
  • Williams, Patrick, and Laura Chrishman 1994. ‘Colonial Discourse and Post- Colonial Theory: An Introduction’ in Patrick Williams and Laura Crishman (eds.). Colonial Discourse and Post- Colonial Theory: A Reader. Harvester/ Wheat Sheaf: New York, London, Toronto, Sidney, Tokyo and Singapore, 1994.
  • Quayson, Ato.


Scheduled activity hours

Lectures 33
Seminars 11

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