Updated: Nov 8
Decolonizing Dramaturgy in Contemporary Performing Arts
The 2021 PACE+ Dramaturgical Lab follows the successful Lab held in Bloemfontein during PACE+ 2019 and the lessons we have learned in 2020 with PACE Entangled online. PACE+ is a unique platform born in the interim years between the Pan-African Creative Exchange (PACE) to help artists reflect on and further develop their work in preparation for future international collaborative & touring opportunities (and a potential PACE Showcase).
The works of artists based in Africa often sit at the nexus of various performance traditions. Much of their work comes out of self-directed research – through attending workshops, intensives or undergoing personal research projects, which might exist as part of their rehearsal processes. Since critical discourse and theories on African performance made for ticket buying or curated audiences are limited, their work is often wrongly evaluated by Western models. Their work also runs the risk of being misunderstood by audiences both at home and abroad and being stifled before it can reach its full potential.
Dramaturgy is not peculiar to Western performance tradition. Different theatre traditions have ways in which dramaturgical practices and processes are performed. Regardless of the cultural context and creative content, the dramaturgical process requires thorough inquiry, robust research, and unbiased exploration of various intercultural and various aspects of people, history, and community existence. *
Dramaturges can examine ethical and critical issues around power, privilege, representation, and positionality in their processes without compromising the aesthetics of the art form. As a sociological art and act, dramaturgy involves identifying and employing semiotics and theatrical metaphors to explore issues of identity formation and reformation. It also serves as a model for agency, awareness, and engagement, especially in how institutions and power shape creative processes and stage re/presentation. *
The PACE+ Dramaturgical Lab is an interdisciplinary and collaborative space. The lab does not focus on any one art form. It allows artists to interrogate their way of working, find new artistic processes for doing work, and consider new ways of positioning their work in society. The aim is to allow artists to find ways of continuing and developing careers as artists and cultural practitioners. The artists will leave with goals and ideas of implementing what they discover and with many new international connections.
PACE+ Dramaturgical Lab 2021 consists of 5 online gatherings and one networking event on Saturdays between October 9th and December 11th, 2021. It is an exploration into the meaning of Dramaturgy and the different dramaturgical roles that exist and provides participants with tools to implement dramaturgy into their work or the artistic creations of others. The lab also runs with Dr Taiwo Afolabi’s Howlround (podcast) series on ‘Decolonizing Dramaturgy in Contemporary Theatre’. PACE provides a small stipend to the lab’s participants to help artists during these difficult times and ensure everyone has internet access. This year’s lab has 11 participants from Africa and its diaspora based in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Lesotho, China, Uganda, Senegal, Brazil, Canada, Barbados, Kenya & South Africa.
The PACE+ Dramaturgical Lab 2021 partners with the international Vrystaat Arts Festival in Bloemfontein and is supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
(*) From Taiwo Afolabi’s Routledge Dramaturgy Series
Lab participants 2021
Rita, Pardal’s son, is a Brazilian interdisciplinary artist with a degree in performing arts from the University of São Paulo. He dialogues with the narrative practices of life through live arts, dance and performance. Over the past three years, he has been studying the decolonial distinctions between hegemonic narratives and dissident puri-versal narratives from a Eurocentric perspective of existence in the
urban territory of the city of São Paulo,
Brazil. Along with the word, Afonso narrates his paths starting from the borders invented by the colonial world that sacked the lands we know today as Brazil.
Works as a professional storyteller, facilitator, festival producer, arts educator and community organiser in Nairobi, Kenya.
With Zama Leo ACT, I help organise the annual Sigana International Storytelling Festival to promote the art of storytelling.
Together with the organisation TICAH(Traditional Indigenous Culture and Heritage), I have been using storytelling to disseminate knowledge at the National Museums of Kenya and the wider community
through various workshops and am an award-winning recipient of the excellent foundation
grant 2015 to transform Nairobi using stories.
NTANGAARE, Mercy Mirembe
She is a playwright, folklorist, theatre maker, educationist, and producer of children’s and young people’s theatre with MEBO Theatre Documentaries Limited, which she founded in 2006. She is an Associate Professor of Drama at Makerere University Kampala. She writes plays, short stories, essays, and children’s books.
Third Hope Africa
Fourth Heritage Initiative
Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE)
Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association (UWEAL)
Lions Clubs International
Research Interests: Inter / Trans-disciplinary research; Folk Arts; Biographical theatre; Drama Portals and Digital / E-Publishing.
Hobbies: Theatre, the Choir, Photography, Creative Writing, Cooking, Gardening, Travelling, Humanitarian Service, Design and Deco.
Works as an arts coordinator, cultural curator, and arts writer. She was recognised as the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans in 2021 and named a Salzburg Global Seminar Young Cultural Innovator in 2019. Faye describes herself as an interdisciplinary practitioner with a strong focus on public engagement, identity, and accessibility, with a growing interest in curation and production.
In 2020, she began exploring WhatsApp as a medium for storytelling and debuted her first WhatsApp production, The Shopping Dead, at the virtual National Arts Festival 2020. The Shopping Dead was incredibly popular and broke new ground for theatre. Her second WhatsApp project was a digital art exhibition, Dear Us, Matric 2020, that she curated for the Fak’ugesi Festival in October 2020.
Michelle Kim Hoffman
South Africa / China
She enjoys talking about herself in the third person to coax a superb impression from potentially wavering people. She co-founded Vukallective, established in 2014 as an artist collective, primarily working on projects part-time. The subject matter she explores is grounded in her master's research, which she was fortunate to complete under the guidance of the Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies Foundation and the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts in the Free State.
Hoffman’s research explored the symbolic features of fictional female characters as depicted in South African theatre and television series during pivotal moments of transition in the country and compared them to the historical accounts of these female voices. Through her findings, she directed three productions, namely Avu (2016), Yes Deer (2017) and Refraction (2018) – all created to provide a voice for the voiceless. She resides in Shanghai, China (2018-present) as the Drama, Public Speaking and Film Studies teacher at Noble Hills Academy High School.
Is a self-motivated, strong-willed and hard-working person. She is currently serving as the Program Officer working directly with youth programs. Her personal goal is to share with every person the knowledge acquired at any level to change lives and improve skills and education, as well as her experience and open new doors for professional growth.
Zambia / Canada
He is a Zambian multi-disciplined artist currently based in Toronto. She is a graduate of the Acting program at The National Theatre School of Canada and a Dora Nominated actress whose recent credits include Canadian Stage: Measure for Measure; Shaw Festival: Henry V, The Adventures of the Black Girl; Obsidian Theatre: School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls Play; Factory Theatre: Trout Stanley, Acts of Faith.
She also recently served as the Apprentice Artistic Director at Factory Theatre with the generous support of the Metcalf Foundation. Her directing credits include Driftwood Trafalgar: Balance; Factory Theatre: Lady Sunrise (Assistant Director); and YPT: The Water Gun Song. She is a dramaturg focusing predominately on developing narratives that reflect the nuanced truth and vast expressions within the BIPOC community.
Elhadji Cheikh Amath Niang
In 2019, Elhadji Cheikh Amath Niang, a.k.a. Arif, was invited to participate in the Vrystaat Arts Festival in South Africa. He performed and attended writing workshops. He also performed at the International Festival of Calebasse Challenge in Lome, Togo, at the French Institute. He had the opportunity to facilitate a writing class with a group of young students during his time there due to the restrictions of Covid 19 in 2020.
He organised a virtual writing class, and E-Slam partnered with Sonatel and led a virtual writing class with kids. The theme was called “Better Internet for Kids”. Due to the restrictions of Covid 19 in 2020, Elhadji Cheikh Amath organised a virtual writing class on Skype and an international online Poetry Slam on Instagram. In Senegal, with every opportunity He comes across, He uses his creative writing and teaching skills to empower the youth by facilitating creative writing workshops in town at the University of Dakar, Eticca, and Sos Village of Children and Warc West African Research Centre.
These opportunities have inspired him to open the first School of Poetry Africa and design the first African Youth League of Poetry Slam. The mission of these initiatives is to positively shape the African leaders of tomorrow and uplift the communal spirit of Poetry. He has chosen the field of creative expression and writing because, in Africa, youth are disenfranchised and often ostracised for self-expression. He wants to expand his network and resources so that He can continue to build the School of Poetry Africa and the Youth Poetry Slam.
"Well-positioned to educate our students with broader perspectives. We’ll also be able to empower them to express themselves and encourage them to embrace diversity by openly sharing our unique experiences. We’ll help them understand the power of our connectedness and shared journey. We'll also be able to show them the importance of being a servant and steward to the African Diaspora and our global community".
Sonia Suzette Williams
Is a critically acclaimed Barbadian Master Theatre Artist and Educator in Theatre Arts, Researcher and Writer. Born January 17th 1967, at Pleasant Hall, St. Peter, Barbados, at the age of 12, Sonia migrated to Brooklyn, New York. Sonia saw this first step of her journey in getting to know the culture of the “white man” and the systems that oppressed people of the African diaspora. She attended Walt Whitman Junior High School and Brooklyn Technical High School, where she majored in Chemistry.
Supported by the Higher Education Opportunity Program and a scholarship from Hamilton College, she moved onto its campus in Clinton, New York, in 1985.
She intended to study Law, but in her search for a space where she could “do something she would love and feel a sense of belonging”, she signed up for Theatre Production with Carol Bellini-Sharpe. This feminist-humanitarian-activist Inuit Master Director fuelled Sonia’s artistic investigation and development through the discipline of Theatre Arts.
Enthusiastic about the total experience of Theatre and analysing from the perspective of black Caribbean womanhood, Sonia switched majors to Theatre Arts and Women’s Studies; she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1989. She was awarded the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to Nigeria, Ghana, Trinidad & Tobago, and Barbados to investigate how performance functioned in West Africa compared to Theatre in Europe and America. Sonia went to Nigeria in search of retentions of West African culture in the Caribbean culture. This continued her pilgrimage through the Middle Passage/the Maafa and has been a profound influence on the conceptualisation of, the practice of, and the ethos of her art. Sonia returned to Barbados in 1990.
She has worked as a theatre artist/researcher nationally, regionally, and internationally. She is creating performances for and teaching performance techniques in Schools, Churches, Prisons, and Communities while writing and mentoring individual artists. An award-winning writer of prose, fiction, plays and poetry, her work explores personal and social issues in the Pan- African space within forms of Standard English and Caribbean nation languages. She has published two books, “This Too Will Pass@ a Novella and “Embodied Knowings”, a poetry collection. Her short stories and poetry have been published in journals and anthologies. Sonia earned a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning in 2012 from the University of the West Indies Cave Hill, Barbados. Between 1990 -2021, she is researching and writing a Master of Philosophy in Culture at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Barbados, Class of 2021, while Lecturing in the Faculty of Culture, Creative and Performing Arts.
She is the mother of three children, Sierra, Akasa and Nkoya and lives near the sea, where she immerses herself regularly. It is her comfort, her healer, her passageway.
He was born on March 13, 1991, in Lagos, Nigeria. He is the second child of Yetunde Fosudo, a politician/theatre manager and Prof. Sola Fosudo, a veteran actor/theatre lecturer. He has a Masters degree in Theatre.
Arts from the University of Ibadan, where he also bagged his bachelor’s degree. He has written eight plays, two of which have been published.
His play Milk, Honey and Whatnot finished second runner-up for the 3rd Beeta playwright competition in 2020, and in August 2021, his play Black Dust won the match. Temiloluwa Fosudo is also a filmmaker and actor.
2021 Lab Co-ordinating Facilitators
UK / Nigeria
Is an academic whose research interests include the production of knowledge for the cultural and creative industries in Africa. She was the designer and lead facilitator of the PACE Dramaturgical Lab in 2019. She works as a dance lecturer at De Montfort University in England and as a storytelling artist and dramaturge for theatre-makers with a dance or combined arts focus. Her approach to professional development draws on work experience in education, performance, media and arts management. She started Saartjie Botha, a playwright and theater impresario. As a dramatist, she is particularly praised for Spanner, Die Goue Seun and 1975. As a producer, under the banner of the production company Fleis, Rys & Aartappels, she already has 32 productions under her belt, which include Aars! by Peter Verhelst, Tom Lanoye's Mamma Medea and Astor Piazzolla's Tango operetta Maria de Buenos Aires. She is also involved in community theatre on wine farms in Boland. She ran a coffee shop before she started working full-time in the theatre in 2001.ng asngas, a media practitioner in Nigeria, writing for the art press, producing for TV and act acting on the radio. Moving to England in 1994, she began touring as a performer, mainly with Physical/Visual theatre and African dance drama companies. Her credits include performances with Ritual Arts, Horse and Bamboo Mask and Puppetry Company, Artistes-in-Exile, Adzido Pan-African Dance Ensemble, Mushango African Dance and Music Company and the Chomondeleys, a contemporary dance company.
The Netherlands / USA
Is the Co-Executive Director of PACE. He is a New York-based theatermaker, curator, educator, and international arts advocate from the Netherlands with extensive international experience across various creative and community contexts. Erwin is the Director of the Fellowship Program for the International Performing Arts for Youth, Programming Director for the Off-Broadway Origin Theatre Company, and Adjunct Professor for CUNY Brooklyn College’s MFA Performance & Interactive Media Arts Program. Previously, he was Creative/Artistic Director of the International Society for Performing Arts and Director of Performing Arts for the Cultural Department of the Royal Netherlands Embassy & Consulates in the USA. Erwin is a core member of Theater Without Borders, a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow, and a think-tank member of Georgetown University's Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics.
2021 Lab Guest Facilitators
The Dramaturge as Curator/Funder
Saartjie Botha is a playwright and theatre impresario. As a dramatist, she is particularly praised for Spanner, Die Goue Seun and 1975. As a producer, under the banner of the production company Fleis, Rys & Aartappels, she already has 32 productions under her belt, which include Aars! by Peter Verhelst, Tom Lanoye's Mamma Medea and Astor Piazzolla's Tango operetta Maria de Buenos Aires. She is also involved in community theatre on wine farms in the Boland. She ran a coffee shop before she started working full-time in the theatre in 2001. Currently, Botha is the Festival Director of Woordfees in Stellebosch.
Jenny Mijnhijmer is a dynamic and accomplished professional in performing arts and education. As the Head of the Theatre Department at the Dutch Performing Arts Fund, she has demonstrated remarkable leadership and dedication to promoting and nurturing the arts in the Netherlands.
With a strong background in education management, she brings a wealth of experience to her role. Her passion for teaching and developing the next generation of artists is evident in her work. She is a true mentor, helping students unlock their full potential in the world of theatre and the performing arts.
Jenny is not only an educator but also a multi-talented artist. She possesses a diverse skill set, excelling in acting, storytelling, musical theatre, film, and voice work. Her creativity and versatility enrich her teaching and make her a valuable contributor to the theatre community.
She holds a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and Theatrical Science from Leiden University. Her academic background, combined with her practical experience, allows her to provide students with a comprehensive and well-rounded education in the arts. With a passion for the performing arts and a commitment to education, she continues to shape the future of theatre in the Netherlands, inspiring both students and fellow artists along the way.
Since January 2021, Merel Heering is associate dramaturge to Dansateliers. Through her independent practice as a (dance)dramaturge and consultant, she aims to create a more inclusive cultural field. Questioning the modes of operation of artists and cultural institutions is at the heart of her work.
Taiwo Afolabi is an artist-researcher-educator who researches, creates works, performs, and teaches at the intersection of performance and human ecology. Notably, he does this through devised and participatory theatre and socially engaged creative practices with diverse communities. He has worked in over fifteen countries across four continents.
Gregory Vuyani Maqoma was born on October 16, 1973, in Soweto. He developed an interest in dancing in the late 1980s as a way to get away from the political unrest that was escalating in his hometown. He commenced his official dance education in 1990 at Moving Into Dance, where he rose to the position of Associate Artistic Director in 2002. Maqoma has made a name for himself as a dancer, director, choreographer, instructor, and writer of scripts on a global scale. In 1999, while pursuing a scholarship at the Performing Arts Research and Training School (PARTS) in Belgium under Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's leadership, he established Vuyani Dance Theatre (VDT).
Maqoma's partnerships with musicians in his generation have earned him respect. He collaborated with the London Symphony Orchestra and British choreographer Akram Khan in 2006.
Lenerson Polonini Brazil
Lenerson Polonini is a director, producer, professor, art educator and theatre curator. He graduated with a full Bachelor's in Theater from the Faculdade Estacio de Sá. He began his studies in theatre at Escola “O Tablado” in Rio de Janeiro in 1998. He studied with essential directors such as Zé Celso Martinez Corrêa (BRA), Bob Paton (USA), Theodoros Terzopoulos (GRE), Eugênio Barba (ITA), Isabela Ciwinska (RU), Escola Hoshô do Japão (JPA) and among others. Founder of the Nova Theater Company, he researched the work of Samuel Beckett and visual arts, performativity and hybridity in theatre. He directed the pieces “Repertório Beckett”, “Repertório Beckett 2” in 2003, “Repertório Beckett 3” in 2005, “Heiner Müller in Repertório” (Medea material, Hamletmaschine e Descrição de Imagem), Doutor Faustus Liga a Luz and “Escuta, Zé Mané!”, in Sesc Av. Paulista, in São Paulo, in the OI FUTURO Cultural Center in 2009, A Crypta de Poe in 2011, Krísis, com estreia in Atenas in 2013, 2xForeman (Bad Boy Nietzsche and Prostitutas Fora de Moda ), by playwright Richard Foreman, contemplated by PROAC Produção of the Secretary of State of Culture.
In 2016, the product of the Barulho D'água project was awarded the Zé Renato Theater Award by the Municipal Secretary of Culture of São Paulo. In 2017, he directed the piece Os Deuses Estão Marrentando a Minha Cabeça by Richard Foreman, completing the SESC Pinheiros season. As a curator and organiser, I developed the projects “Beckett in Process”, “Acesso Livre”, “Samuel Beckett - 100 years”, and “Ciclo Heiner Müller” in partnership with the Sesc’s São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Atuou for 08 years as a Dynamizing Artist in the Second Cultural Shift project of the Municipal Secretary of Culture of Rio de Janeiro, ministering Theater and Improvisação offices for children, adolescents and young people of the public educational network.
Rajae El Mouhandiz Morocco/The Netherlands
Rajae El Mouhandiz was born in 1979 and is a multidisciplinary performing artist, producer, curator, and (policy) advisor who is Dutch, Moroccan, and Algerian. She has extensive experience both domestically and internationally in the arts and culture sector. Rajae attended HKU and blends her Maghrebian heritage with pop, soul, jazz, and other musical influences. She launched Truthseeker Records, her own record company, in 2005. In 2015, she changed the name to Kahina Productions. She established the Ellae Foundation in 2019. She has done research, created musical theatre plays, released records, produced a short documentary, and designed and organised the exhibition Modest Fashion: An International Phenomenon in Art & Fashion. She served as an advisor for the Council for Culture and the Utrecht Culture Note, in addition to creating her multidisciplinary signature.
Adham Hafez The Netherlands
Adham Hafez, a choreographer, composer, and performer, first studied modern dance at the Cairo Opera House before attending the Amsterdam Theatre School in Amsterdam to earn his master's degree in choreography. Holding a master's degree in political science at SciencePo (Paris), Hafez's research examines political art during periods of drastic transformation. He collaborated with Bruno Latour to explore the effects of human activity on the environment, including physical, artistic, and political aspects. Hafez, who has received recognition for his choreography, compositions, and cultural entrepreneurship, is pursuing a doctorate at New York University after 15 years of study on the history of Arab performance. The most recent shows of his firm were shown at ImpulsTanz (Vienna), Hebbel Am Ufer (Berlin), and MoMA PS1 (New York). Adham Hafez writes in both English and Arabic.
2021 Moderators and Panelists
The Dramaturge as Curator/Funder
Simone Zeefuik The Netherlands
Afro-Dutch author, cultural organiser, and tea critic Simone Zeefuik's work focuses on Blackity Bla,ck creativity, joy, and everydayness in theatre, cinema, and writing. Her creative vocabulary is based on phrases from movies, songs, and some of her favourite books.
Djuwa Mroivili The Netherlands
In her musical practice, pianist Djuwa Mroivili searches for ways to dismantle systems that maintain an exclusive classical music tradition. During Keti Koti Club RIGHTABOUTNOW at Dutch National Opera, she will let the beautiful classical music of several unjustly 'forgotten' black composers from the African diaspora resound through the foyer of Dutch National Opera.
Khadija Massaoudi The Netherlands
Khadija Massaoudi was born and raised in Amsterdam. She is a writer, theatremaker, journalist and performer. Massaoudi created multimedia and multidisciplinary projects where theatre, music, and journalism come together. Her passion and strengths are rooted in human collaborations and connecting people of different professional and cultural backgrounds.
Maarten van Hinte
Maarten van Hinte is a Dutch-Surinamese actor, director, (theatre) writer and dramaturg. First, he studied Biology at the University of Amsterdam. Eventually, he started his career in the arts as Master of Ceremonies in the Amsterdam Hiphop Underground Scene.
Recently, Van Hinte directed the performances of Van slaaf tot meester and STATUS. For the latter, he also wrote the script. He also wrote the performances Woiski vs. Woiski and Tori. With the libretto of How Anansi freed the stories of the world, he made his debut as a librettist in 2021.