Graduate School
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Dr Richard Kagolobya

Home country: Uganda

PANGeA partner: Makerere University

Year of enrolment: 2012

Graduation date: December 2014

Department:  Drama

Supervisor: Prof Edwin Hees

Dissertation title: Symbolic interaction and intercultural theatre performance dynamics in Uganda : the case of Makerere Universitys Intercultural Theatre Collaborations

​Abstract: This dissertation investigates and examines the dynamics of intercultural theatre practice. Existing scholarship on interculturalism in theatre praxis regards intercultural theatre as a site for bridging cultures and cross-cultural performance traditions, and for investigating the performance of power between the collaborating parties, learning, cultural imperialism, cultural translation and hybridity, among other features. However, much of the existing literature does not offer a historical perspective allowing one to understand the dynamics of contemporary North-South collaborations. Moreover, most studies do not adequately weave the experiences of the participants in such collaborations into their analyses. This study contributes to filling that research gap. This research specifically seeks to investigate and examine the dynamics of intercultural theatre collaborations in Uganda, taking Makerere University's Department of Performing Arts and Film's intercultural theatre activities in recent years as case studies. The inquiry was mainly driven by the impetus to explore the North-South intercultural theatre dynamics and to examine the socio-cultural, socio-political, socio-economic features and other notions that were manifested in these intercultural theatre collaborations and performances. In order to pursue the above line of inquiry I used a multiple case study design by examining three cases: the Stanford-Makerere, New York-Makerere and the Norwegian College of Dance-Makerere collaborations. The multi-case study model was reinforced by the use of personal interviews, direct observation, focus group discussions, document analysis and emails of inquiry in order to solicit the views of individuals who had participated in the above collaborations. Theoretically, the study is hinged on a multiplicity of concepts and discourses: symbolic interaction, intercultural communication, theatre studies, postcolonial studies, international education and the discourse on globalisation. In the analysis of the different cases it was discovered that the issue of economic inequality in the contribution towards the funding of the collaborations, among the different modes of power performativity manifested in the collaboration processes, sometimes leads to an imbalance in the decision-making process. Consequently, the power imbalance contributes to the North-South intercultural theatre collaborations' unending crisis of identification with imperialism. The study further shows that there are cultural, linguistic, pedagogical, structural and socio-psychological aspects of difference that are negotiated during the course of the collaborations. It was found that the process of navigating the socio-cultural differences provides the participants with an experiential learning environment of living with/within and appreciating cultural differences, thus providing a bridge across the socio-cultural divide. The cultural bridge in theatrical terms, however, leads to the generation of theatrical hybridity and fusion, which again brings into play the debate on intercultural performance authenticity/inauthenticity in theatre discourse. Also, based on the view that intercultural theatre collaborations are microcosms of multifaceted global intercultural interactions, it was seen that the socio-cultural differences that are negotiated through the intercultural theatre collaborations can give one a microcosmic platform for critiquing the grand concept of the ―global village‖ and the associated notion of ―world cultural homogenisation‖. Since this study uses a novel multidisciplinary approach in the analysis of intercultural theatre phenomena, I believe it will contribute to critical theatre studies in Uganda and elsewhere. The findings will also hopefully contribute towards the assessment of intercultural theatre collaborations at Makerere University in order to improve them. The study will also advance the view that intercultural theatre's aesthetic and experiential processes can help in interpreting and understanding our respective multicultural environments. Broadly, it will contribute to the discourse on intercultural communication, performance and cultural studies.

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