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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $19.5
  • April 2002
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-97529-1
  • 5.7 × 9.3 in / 672 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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Modern African Drama

Norton Critical Editions


See all options and formats starting at

Biodun Jeyifo (Editor, Cornell University)


The first truly continentally representative collection of modern African drama in any language, this Norton Critical Edition includes plays from Egypt, Algeria, the Republic of South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Kenya.

"Backgrounds and Criticism" presents documents on modern African drama generally and on the assembled texts and authors specifically, including little-known materials.  Featured are essays on Tawfik al-Hakim, Kateb Yacine, Athol Fugard, Wole Soyinka, Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and Femi Osofisan.

A Chronology and a Selected Bibliography are included.



    The Texts of the Plays

    Tawfik al Hakim, The Fate of a Cockroach (Egypt)

    1. Translated from the Arabic by Denys Johnson-Davies

    Kateb Yacine, Intelligence Powder (Algeria)

    1. Translated from the French by Stephen J. Vogel

    Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Nthsona, Sizwe Bansi Is Dead (Republic of South Africa)

    Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman (Nigeria)

    Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, A Collision of Altars (Ethiopia)

    Ama Ata Aidoo, Dilemma of a Ghost (Ghana)

    Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Ngugi wa Mirii, I Will Marry When I Want (Kenya)

    1. Translated from the Gikuyu by the authors Femi Osofisan, Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels (Nigeria)

    Backgrounds and Criticism

    African Drama and Theater

    1. Franz Fanon – On National Culture
    2. Wole Soyinka – Theatre in Traditional African
    3. Societies: Survival Patterns
    4. Ngugi wa Thiong’o – Enactments of Power: The Politics of Performance Space
    5. Biodun Jeyifo – The Reinvention of Theatrical Tradition
    6. Don Rubin – African Theatre in a Global Context
    7. Joachim Fiebach – Dimensions of Theatricality in Africa
    8. David Kerr – Art as Tool, Weapon or Shield?

    Tawfik al-Hakim

    1. Paul Starkey – [Trends in the Dramas of Tawfik al-Hakim]
    2. Denys Johnson-Davies – [Introduction to The Fate of a Cockroach and Other Plays]
    3. Richard Long – [Philosophical and Psychological Themes in The Fate of a Cockroach]

    Kateb Yacine

    1. Bernard Aresu – [The Theatrical Carnivalseque in Intelligence Powder]
    2. Jacqueline Kaye – [Populist Aesthetics and Idioms in Kateb Yacine’s Theater]
    3. Kamal Salhi – The Pragmatics and Aesthetics of Kateb
    4. Yacine’s Theatre Practice

    Athol Fugard

    1. Athol Fugard – [Introduction to Statements]
    2. Russell Vandenbroucke – Robert Zwelinzima is Alive
    3. Hilary Seymour – [Artistic Ambivalence in Sizwe Bansi Is Dead]
    4. Dennis Walder – The Statements Plays

    Wole Soyinka

    1. Wole Soyinka – Author’s Note to Death and the King’s Horse – Towards a True Theatre
    2. Annemarie Heywood – The Fox’s Dance: The Staging of Wole Soyinka’s Plays
    3. Adebayo Williams – [Cultural Death and the King’s Horseman]
    4. Michael Etherton – Tribute to Wole Soyinka

    Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin

    1. Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin – Author’s Note to A Collision of Altars
    2. Richard Pankhurst – A Collison of Altars: Notes on History
    3. Biodun Jeyifo – Art and Ideology in the Plays of Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin
    4. Jane Plastow – [Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin and Ethiopian Reformist Theater]

    Ama Ata Aidoo

    1. Lloyd Brown – [Oral Tradition in Dilemma of a Ghost]
    2. C. L. Innes – [Motherhood in Ama Ata Aidoo’s Plays]
    3. Vincent O. Odamtten – A Bird of the Wayside Sings

    Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

    1. Nguigi wa Thiong’o – Women in Cultural Work: The Fate of the Kamiriithu Theatre in Kenya
    2. Nicholas Brown – The Problem of History in the Plays of Ngugi wa Thiong’o
    3. Oliver Lovesay – [On I Will Marry When I Want]

    Femi Osofisan

    1. Femi Osofisan – [Formal Strategies and Social Commentary in My Plays]
    2. Sandra Richards – Hegemony Rests with the Audience
    3. Abiola Irele – [Form, Content, and Context in Femi Osofisan’s Drama]
    4. Chris Dunton – [The Theater of Femi Osofisan]

    African Drama: A Chronology

    Selected Bibliography