Transgendered Cross-dressing, Performing Identities and Protest in Nigerian Drama


African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellowships


Department of Languages/Linguistics/Literary Studies/Theatre Arts


Expressions of transgendered cross-dressing in Nigerian drama have mostly been regarded as either comedy or mere feminist assertiveness. They have scarcely been seen as what they really are: acquisition of new identities with which to resist oppression. Also, being seen as taboo in most parts of Africa, there is scant academic enquiry on transgender issues in the continent's literature, especially drama. In order to open up scholarly discourses in this area, this study appropriates Judith Butler's "Gender Performativity" and Richard Schechner's "Performance Theory", and then, through textual analysis and close reading, interrogates purposively selected Nigerian Protest Plays, with a view to identifying how characters resist oppression by rejecting culturally-assigned gender roles and dress patterns. It argues further that, in Protest Plays, characters cross-dress (in itself, a form of performance) to acquire new individualities with which they dislocate the oppressor into an image of frailty, thereby defeating an unfavorable status quo.