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Title: A history of Kenyan theatre : the intersections between culture and politics
Author: Komu, Rose Wangui
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 2880
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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The study is a piece of qualitative research that investigates both the history and historiography of Kenyan theatre. I have focused on showing how the performance traditions, thematic and theatrical concerns of theatre in Kenya have evolved from the colonial period to present time as well as the sociopolitical factors that gave birth to these changes. I also studied how other scholars have depicted Kenyan theatre with a view to identifying any confluence or contradictions with the historical data that was the basis of this study. The main question that the study investigated revolved around the major socio-political influences, internal and external, that have shaped Kenyan theatre since the colonial era. More specifically the study was interested in finding out the literary, intellectual and aesthetic considerations that have underpinned theatre practice in Kenya and the challenges the sector has been grappling with from the colonial to present period. To acquire the necessary information, the study triangulated various methods of qualitative research. These included archival research at the Kenya National Archives and on the internet, interviews with theatre practitioners and experts, analysis of journalistic articles and observations of performances. These were accompanied by a robust library and internet research. An interpretive analysis of plays and material from fieldwork was undertaken to answer the research questions. To argue out the various issues convincingly, theoretical frameworks from the fields of theatre historiography, post-colonialism and Theatre for Development were used. Among these were Frantz Fanon’s ideas on colonialism and neo-colonialism, African socialism, Augusto Boal’s ideas of Theatre for Development and Paulo Freire’s views on education of the oppressed. The writings of renowned theatre scholars such as Ngugi wa Thiong'o, David Kerr, Jane Plastow and Opiyo Mumma and historians such as Bethwell Ogot, Charles Hornsby and William Ochieng also shaped my work. The major findings of the study were that political regimes of Kenya and ideology have been major influences in shaping the direction and aesthetics of Kenyan theatre. Lack of adequate training was found to be a main challenge undermining the realisation of the full potential of Kenyan theatre. The study further revealed a lack of adequate research in the field of performance which has led to much misrepresentation of Kenya’s theatre history. The study recommends more investment in terms of policy, infrastructure development and training to enable the Kenyan theatre sector to realise its full potential.
Supervisor: Plastow, Jane Sponsor: Commonwealth Scholarship Commission ; University of Leeds ; Government of Kenya
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available