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Leverhulme grant awarded to explore South African theatre

The University of Warwick and The Open University have been awarded more than £140,000 for a three-year research project exploring the role of South African theatre in contemporary identity formation. 

The Leverhulme Research Project Grant is a collaboration between Dr Yvette Hutchison from the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at University of Warwick and Professor Dennis Walder, Director of the Open University’s Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies. 

The project, entitled ‘Performing Memory: theatricalising identity in contemporary South Africa’ will fund two full-time PhD students, one at each university, as well as travel and archival work. 

Both Hutchison and Walder have wide experience of research and publication in the South African theatre context. They are currently finalising a special Africa Issue of Contemporary Theatre Review. 

The aim of the new project is to explore how formal processes of remembering and recording the contested histories of South Africa – such as the Truth and Reconciliation hearings – are related to popular performative representations including plays, installations, memorials, film and TV, in the 're-membering' of a nation. The outcomes of the project will include a book, articles, and a new South African theatre archive at the Ferguson Centre. 

Dr Hutchison said: “This project offers a wonderful opportunity to expand current perspectives on the significance of theatre in South Africa. The studentships will allow Dennis Walder and I to develop our own research alongside those of newer researchers, with the intention of reframing the significance of memory work in relation to questions of identity, and how these are performed in an age of increasing cultural plurality and mobility.” 

For more information please contact Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Communications Officer, University of Warwick, 02476 150483, 07824 540863,