"The Real Tragedy of Historical Contingency”

Rehearsing the Failed Revolution in Postcolonial Angolan Theater

  • Luís Madureira University of Wisconsin-Madison
Keywords: People’s theater, didactic drama, agitprop, revolutionary nationalism


I analyze two agit-prop plays produced in Angola during the social revolutionary phase immediately after independence (1975-1986). Arguably, this period’s literary and cultural production was governed by a liberation script grounded on a largely “mythic” account of the armed struggle that afforded a monopoly of explanation of the decolonization process to the ruling party. In my examination of this modality of political or pedagogic theatre, I seek to explore the extent to which the political praxis mobilized by these collective productions risked lapsing into an imposed orthodoxy or a form of censorship, which is, in the last instance disavowed. I suggest that the fissures and divisions against which these plays strive to educate their audiences and participants are as much external to the political pedagogics they seek to activate (arising from social, ethnic and racial conflicts and rivalries) as they are internal to, and constitutive of it.