Unraveling the Postcolonial in Applied Theatre Practice in Uganda. A Critical Exploration of Contemporary Practices


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Music and Performing Arts


This project sets out to interrogate how postcolonial forces have continued to shape applied theatre (AT) practice in Uganda. The main thrust of AT practice is to engage communities in a participatory process of collective play devising and performance as a springboard for exploring issues underlying participants’ lives. Consequently, the study examines how postcolonial trends impact on AT’s goal of fostering participation and people centeredness in AT performances. Whereas the ‘post’ in postcolonialism might appear to refer to a definite time period after independence from colonial rule, postcolonial theory scholars such as Ashcroft et al (2006), Helen Gilbert and Joanne Tompkins (1996), Alan Lawson (1992) have indicated that the term carries an aura of an indefinite and often ongoing process of colonisation. Thus, the project is underpinned by the postcolonial stance that post-colonialism is a continuing process of resistance and reconstruction. The study seeks to answer multiple specific questions: To what extent is AT practice in Uganda based on the core principles of practice? Whose voices and/or agendas are privileged in AT practice in Uganda? To what extent are contemporary practitioners decolonizing the process by balancing power related dynamics between the communities and themselves on one hand, and between themselves and the funders on the other hand?