Borrowers and Lenders: Exploring Contemporary Intercultural Theatre in Francophone West Africa
López Piñón, F.J.
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For the last decades, an intercultural performance practice has been set in motion in Francophone West Africa. This practice aims at creating theatrical events that integrate elements of local performance practices, often related to indigenous religious/animistic traditions. In the process of creation, the spiritual context is then shed with a view to foreground the inherent aesthetic values. Although the presence of this performance practice is very evident, it has not formed a part of the intercultural theatre debate, even if its development runs contemporary to that debate that started in the last decades of the previous century amongst leading scholars of theatre/performance studies. This thesis proposes that this practice needs to be taken into account as, besides its display of common characteristics with other intercultural performance practices, there are specific worthwhile aspects to be addressed. One of these aspects is the fact that the principal aim of this theatre is to appeal as directly as possible to the indigenous audiences that as a rule are not familiar with European theatrical codes. The thesis argues that the amalgamation of indigenous performance elements within the context of contemporary theatre practice is accomplished in a way that is congruent with the hybrid character of post-colonial societies. Through colonisation, modes of life, patterns of behaviour, products, commodities and ideas have been imbricated into a hybrid and dynamic complex that still forms the essence of contemporary post-colonial society. It is against this backdrop that the intercultural theatre practice should be understood. Borrowers and Lenders traces the development of the practice and signals its characteristic creative processes. It places the phenomenon within its context of West African postcolonial society, thus adding a chapter to a neglected part of intercultural performance practice and pointing forward towards a new phase in the development of the genre.