The Archive as Storyteller: Curating Narratives from a Rehearsal Process
Theatre in South Africa is deeply entrenched in the art of storytelling. From the traditions of African oral histories; through to bodies presenting narratives in contemporary performance spaces. We live, speak and move our stories in our embodied performance practices.
The RETAGS (Reimagining Tragedy in Africa and the Global South) research project, led by Prof. Mark Fleishman, explores how the form of tragedy has evolved alongside and perhaps influenced the continent’s forms of storytelling. One of the strands of the project is the development of new theatrical performances that interrogate this concept, which is further captured through digital means into audio clips, video segments, image stills and text towards organising an archive. However, performance and its development by its nature is ephemeral, so how can it transform into something digital? And can the digital outputs tell their own stories?
This 15 minute presentation was created for the African Studies Department at the University of Kansas, for their virtual Symposium on African Digital Storytelling held on the 09-10-2020 . Dr Sanjin Muftic and Jayne Batzofin outlined the way in which Antigone (not quite/quiet), the first of four practice-based research performances of the RETAGS project, was documented and how the archive is currently being developed in order to share the multiple stories of tragedy on the African continent. Through this we aim to give precedence to the way artists can use performance practice-based research and oral histories as a reputable means by which to produce data, in order to drive and interrogate academic research.
00:00:00 | Introduction
00:00:35 | South African Theatre
00:01:38 | Reimagining Tragedy in African and the Global South (RETAGS) Research
00:03:13 | Theatre and the Connection to the Digital
00:04:53 | Building the Digital Archive/Data Capturing
00:08:50 | Building the Digital Archive/Digital Curation
00:11:35 | Showcasing the Digital Archive
00:13:34 | Conclusion
Basu, Paul and F. D. Jong. “Utopian Archives, Decolonial Affordances: Introduction to Special Issue.” Social Anthropology 24 (2016): 5-19.
Hall, S. 2001. ‘Constituting an archive’, Third Text 54: 89–92.
Mbembe, Achille, and Bregtje van der Haak. 2015. “The Internet Is Afropolitan.” The Chimurenga Chronic New Cartographies. March 17. Accessed August 12, 2015. http://chimurengachronic.co.za/the-internet-is-afropolitan/.
Mignolo, W. D. 2011. The darker side of western modernity: global futures, decolonial options. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Munoz, T. 2012. Doing Digital humanities in the library isn't a service. Available: http://trevormunoz.com/notebook/2012/08/19/doing-dh-in-the-library.html. Accesses 25 August 2019.
Sant, T. (2017), Documenting Performance, Bloomsbury UK.
Scheub, H. 1996. The Tongue Is Fire : South African Storytellers and Apartheid.
Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Stoler, A. L. 2009. Along the archival grain: epistemic anxieties and colonial common sense. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Trouillot, M.-R. 1995. Silencing the past: power and the production of history. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.