Ng~ug~i Wa Thiongos Drama and the Kamiriithu Popular Theater Experiment

ISBN 10: 1592213421 / ISBN 13: 9781592213429
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Synopsis: Kam r th has attracted considerable critical attention over the last twenty-five years. In this ground-breaking study of Kam r th , the author puts pressure on some of the assumptions driving earlier research. Moving from a savvy discussion of all extant Ng g plays and their contexts, Nd g r g then reconstructs Kam r th its aesthetics, its ideology, its politics and ultimately, its theorizing in a way that no other critic has done before. Whereas previous critics have underscored Ng g s attempt to fashion the aesthetic into the oppositional to quote from Simon Gikandi s insightful study of Ng g s works, Nd g r g shows that in the end, even though his activist theater allowed Ng g to close the gap separating him from his subjects and audience, the activist theater was still haunted by the dilemma that Fredric Jameson finds in Ng g s fictional works: the author s passion for change which has not found its agents. While recognizing that Ng g s self-reported epistemological break with English redefined his audience somewhat, Nd g r g shows that the oppositionality of the G k y language plays mattered more than the language of their composition with meaning conveyed almost as effectively by the non-verbal as it was by the verbal texts. Differentiating the actual audiences into gendered, class, religious, ethno-national and national subjects in a way that brings Ng g s own gender, class, ideology, ethno-nationality and nationality into sharper focus, Nd g r g highlights the gap between the author s privileged positions and the subjects of his representation; between the dramaturgical modeling of social change and the impediments to social change. In the end, Nd g r g concludes, the activist theater was effective, rather than efficacious. Even so, Kam r th is presented as a landmark in the development of Kenyan theater, redefining its aesthetics and its politics and influencing a whole generation of theater practitioners. Here, the reader will find the voices of the other Kam r th participants articulated for the first time. They engage the official Kam r th theatrical history in very provocative ways. With this text, Kam r th criticism has finally come of age. Professor Ndigirigi s study is invaluable for anyone doing serious work in the fields of popular theater and postcolonial literature. He provides much needed context and depth to Ngugi wa Thiong o s long-praised though little-understood work in Gikuyu political and community theater. With clear insights into local linguistic, cultural and historical perspectives, Ndigirigi provides scholars and non-specialists alike with a detailed understanding of not only Ngugi s theatrical work but also the much broader context of the society and culture that made up the Kamiriithu experience. The author optimally combines the virtually unique access afforded him in his meticulous fieldwork and archival study to ground his use of a variety of theoretical/disciplinary approaches in developing a clear critical vision, producing a rich and rewarding examination of a crucial moment in Kenyan cultural history. Robert Cancel, Department of Literature, University of California, San Diego

About the Author: G ch ng r Nd g r g is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Title: Ng~ug~i Wa Thiongos Drama and the Kamiriithu...
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