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Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds$
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Lorna Hardwick and Carol Gillespie

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296101

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296101.001.0001

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Antigone and her African Sisters: West African Versions of a Greek Original

Antigone and her African Sisters: West African Versions of a Greek Original

(p.54) 3 Antigone and her African Sisters: West African Versions of a Greek Original
Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds

James Gibbs

Oxford University Press

This chapter maps the interaction between the varied and complex indigenous performance traditions of West Africa, and the genres and styles imported from Europe. The focus of the discussion is prompted by theatre in Ghana, and the material has an additional importance outside the field of classics in that it will go some way to compensate for the lack of publication of a theatrical record in Ghana. The chapter explores the impact of Caribbean and Black Atlantic cultural traffic on rewritings of Antigone, notably Kamau Brathwaite’s Odale’s Choice and also Morisseau Leroy’s Antigone in Haiti, an example of multiple translation. This chapter challenges both ‘isolationist’ and ‘conspiracy’ theories of African encounters with Greek plays, emphasising the varied interactions in different performance traditions in West Africa. It also discusses the educational contexts, including a production of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone, as a prompt to debate about leadership. It comments on the importance of the African diaspora in giving a political edge to rewritings, and argues that African encounters with Greek drama have been liberating.

Keywords:   West Africa, Antigone, theatre, Ghana, Kamau Brathwaite, Morisseau Leroy, Greek literature, leadership, diaspora

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