Ensemble Figure Configuration as a Satiric Strategy in African Drama


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Drama, Film


A reading of some African plays reveals an emergent tendency to populate the stage with a group of two to five characters who function as a homogeneous entity in spite of minor conflicts among them in order to comment on, expose, and deride societal follies. Plays like “Woza Albert!” by Mtwa et al., Soyinka’s “Madmen and Specialists,” Osofisan’s “Once Upon Four Robbers,” and Mawugbe’s BBC 2009 International award-winning play “Prison Graduates” all use this trope. This research adopts the term “ensemble figure configuration” first used by Solomon Marcus as explicated in Pfister (1988) to describe this praxis, and proceeds to analyze the manner in which the peculiar strategies of ensemble figure configuration by these playwrights blend a critical attitude with wit, humor, and other devices to examine contemporary societal follies