Text and Performance Deviations in Efua Sutherland’s The Marriage of Anansewa and Toyin Abiodun’s The Trials of Afonja

Olusola Oso


A common notion among the audience is that a good performance must be explicitly faithful to its text. Studies on African dramatic texts and performance have illustrated the points of convergence between dramatic texts and their stage performances. However, few of these studies have investigated the reasons for the deviations of the stage performances from the dramatic texts. This study was, therefore, designed to examine the points of divergence between selected African dramatic texts and their stage performances with a view to foregrounding the reasons for the deviations of the dramatic texts from their stage performances. Stephen Greenblatt’s New Historicism was adopted as the theoretical framework of the study. Two Anglophpne African plays, Efua Sutherland’s The Marriage of Anansewa and Toyin Abiodun’s The Trials of Afonja were purposively selected due to their African regional representation and the demonstrable deviations between these texts and their stage performances. Close reading of the dramatic texts was done. The video recordings of the stage performances of the two plays were reviewed. Data were subjected to literary and performance criticisms. Four divergent features were identified. They were rupturing of the sequence of incidents, coalescing of scenes, addition and removal of scenes and characters, and the infusion of songs. Directors of stage performances deliberately and pragmatically deviate from dramatic texts without prejudice to the storyline nor the historicity of the text. Hence, the divergence between text and performance is creativity.

Keywords:   Dramatic text, performance fidelity, Anglophone African drama, stage performance, directors


There is, indubitably, an interplay between text and performance in drama. In his perceptive book, Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post Structuralist Criticism, the French philosopher and author Michel Serres (1979:440) concisely defines a text as “a system of laws” and defines criticism as “a generalized physics which describes the states of the text.” Like nature which resolutely abhors a vacuum, texts do not exist in a vacuum. They remain hostage to available language, available practice, and available imagination.Roland Barthes is a scholar of no mean repute who has researched extensively on text. Barthes (1975:32) defines text as “the phenomenal surface of the literary work; it is the fabric of the words which make up the work and which are arranged in such a way as to impose a meaning which is stable and as far as possible.”  Barthes’ aforementioned definition of text suggests that text guarantees the stability of meaning. In contrast, performance imposes variability on it. Text has an edge over speech, which is susceptible to the fallibility of human memory.

     Performance is an artistic actualization and creative representation of action. Drama comes in the mode of written texts or performance text. A dramatic performance is, therefore, conceivable as a text of different cultural and ideologically constructed meanings. Dramatic performance transforms the dramatic text into a product of multiple authorship and authority rather than the presumed status of a work produced by a single playwright. Performance blows life into the dramatic text and guarantees the full realization of the text.

     Various scholarly definitions of drama have underlined the significance of performance to drama.  Esslin (1977) in Anatomy of Drama defines drama as “something one goes to see, which is organized as something to be seen.” Wilson (1988:4) states that: “unlike the novel which is mainly read, a play is written to be performed.” The effectiveness of drama requires a story, performance, actors and audience. Brater (1994) in the book The Drama in the Text submits that much of the material in drama often makes more sense when spoken and heard than when simply read and silently digested. According Applebee (2001), drama is “a story that is intended to be performed for an audience, either on stage or before a camera.” Abrams (2005:69) defines it as “the form of composition designed for performance in the theatre, in which actors take the roles of the characters, perform the indicated actions, and utter the written dialogue.” Iwuchukwu (2008) holds that drama is an adaptation, recreation and reflection of reality on stage.

     The inference that can be drawn from the above definitions is that it is difficult to separate drama from performance. During the stage performance of a play or the film production of a dramatic text or script, drama brings life experiences realistically to the audience. One of drama’s basic missions, especially within its African matrix, is to convey in dialogue and action, not only the urgency of the playwright’s deeper intention, but also the characters’ driving motivations. Drama can easily be described as the most active of the three genres of literature, as it has an immediate impact on the audience.

       Studies abound on Anglophone African drama and stage performances.  A good number of these existing studies have focused on the analyses of the dramatic texts. The evaluation of the interplay between history and Anglophone African drama is the primary concern of some of such studies. Etherton, 1982; Layiwola, 2003; Yerima, 2003; and  Akinyemi, 2010 exemplify these. These studies reiterated how historical drama has been a favourite fodder of imagination for Anglophone African playwrights. Many other studies on African plays have been preoccupied with the problem of the crisis of identity which has, over the years, plagued African literature, and, by extension, African drama. Dapo Adelugba (1981) and Nelson Fashina (2008) are examples of such studies.

       Many of the studies on the nexus between African dramatic texts and their stage performances have illustrated the points of convergence between the texts and the performances, without bothering to examine the reasons for the deviations between the text and the performance or assess the fidelity of the performances to the historicity of the texts. Van der Merwe (1991) critically evaluates the role of drama and theatre semiotics in the study of African literature, with specific reference to Northern Lesotho drama.  He investigates the relationship between the drama text and the performance. Paying close attention to certain perspectives held by semioticians like Alter, Elam, Serpieri and Serge about the abovementioned relationship, he discovers that drama theory has been neglected by many studies on text and performance in drama.  He is silent on the deviations between the text and performance and, invariably, does not provide the reasons for the deviations. Doing this would have made the study more comprehensive and more robust. Barber (2005) in Text and Performance in Africa highlights the wide range of relations that are possible between a “text” and a “performance” in African drama. She stresses the need for comparative literary studies between text and performance in African drama. Barber fixates on the points of convergence between text and performance in African drama, without saying much on how theatre directors deliberately and pragmatically deviate from the dramatic texts in their stage performances of African plays. This study focuses on these deviations. Ebewo (2017) gives a compendium of critical and intellectual discourses on black African drama, theatre and performance in Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland.  Ebewo’s preoccupation is on the points of convergence between black African drama and performances.

     As stated above, few of the studies have investigated the reasons for the deviations of the stage performances from the dramatic texts or assessed the fidelity of the performances to the historicity of the texts. This study is, therefore, designed to examine the deviations of two selected African dramatic texts from their stage performances, suggest the reasons for these deviations, and investigate the cohesion of the historicity between them. The selected texts are Efua Sutherland’s The Marriage of Anansewa (hereafter TMA) and Toyin Abiodun’s The Trials of Afonja (hereafter TTA).

Theoretical Framework: Stephen Greenblatt’s New Historicism

According to Michael Meyer (2004: 718): 

New Historicism is an approach to literature that emphasises the interaction between a work’s historical context and a modern reader’s understanding and interpretation of the work

It is a school of literature theory that developed in the 1980s primarily through the work of a renowned literary critic, Stephen Greenblatt. It developed primarily as a reaction against the New Criticism that dominated literary studies during the early to mid-20th century. Characteristically, the practitioners of the New Criticism would explore the formal, literary qualities of a literary work of art, but would neglect the historical background of the literary work, and the socioeconomicandcultural context surrounding the literary text. To the New Critics, every text is a self-contained entity which can be analysed without any reference to any extraneous material. Stephen Greenblatt, Michel Foucault, Louis Montrose, Hayden White and Catherine Gallaher are some of the proponents of New Historicism.                                          

       New Historicists aim simultaneously to understand the work through its historical context and to understand cultural and intellectual history through literature. New Historicism seeks to find meaning in a text by considering the work within the framework of the prevailing ideas and assumptions of its historical era. New Historicists concern themselves with the concept of power, the intricate means by which cultures produce and reproduce themselves. These critics focus on revealing the historically specific model of truth and authority reflected in a given work (Abrams, 1999). 

       A significant difference between the earlier historical criticism and New Historicism is the newer variety’s emphasis on analyzing historical documents with the same intensity and scrutiny given foregrounded passages in the literary works to be interpreted (Robert Di Yanni, 2004). For example, in reading Bode Sowande’s historical play, Tornadoes Full of Dreams (1990) which was inspired by the French Revolution of 1789, a New Historicist would pay as much attention to the historical documents and accounts of the period when the play was published as to the details of incidents and language in the story itself. The historical documents would be read to ascertain prevailing cultural attitudes about the French Revolution. In addition, the New Historicist critics would typically compare the prevailing cultural attitudes about this issue today with those of the times in which the story was written.

       Another significant tenet of the New Historicist is its concern with examining the power relations of rulers and subjects. Many New Historicist critics assume that texts, not only literary works but also documents, diaries, records, and even institutions such as hospitals and prisons are ideological products culturally constructed from the prevailing power structures that dominate particular societies. Reading a literary work from a New Historicist perspective thus becomes an exercise in uncovering the conflicting and subversive perspectives of the marginalized and the suppressed. These issues will be investigated in the analyses of the selected dramatic texts.

       Unlike critics who limit their analysis of a literary work to its language and structure, (notably formalist and deconstructive critics), the New Historicists devote a great deal of time to analyzing the literary texts and the non-literary texts from the same time in which the literary work was written. They subject both the literary texts and the non-literary texts which must have influenced the writing of the literary texts into approximately the same measure of scrutiny. The New Historicists give equal critical weight to analyzing the ways in which literature and historical texts negotiate social and political power. The literary text is not privileged in any new historicist essay. As a literary theory, therefore, New Historicism demonstrates how literary works of art reveal historical truth and how writers subjectively communicate their artistic ideas.

       New Historicism frequently addresses the idea that power propels most human actions. Therefore, New Historicism seeks to find examples of power, and how it is dispersed within the literary text. Power is a means through which the marginalized are controlled, and the thing that the marginalized seek to gain. New Historicism seeks to locate “sites of struggle”, to identify just who is the group or entity with the most power.  For New Historicist critics, history does not provide mere “background” against which to study literary works, but is, rather, an equally monumental “text” one that is ultimately inseparable from the literary work. This inevitably reveals the conflicting power relations that underpin all human interactions, ranging from the modest interactions with families to the large-scale interactions of social institutions.

      One overarching reason for settling for New Historicism as a tool of the analysis of the selected literary texts is that since the selected texts are unquestionably historical African drama, a literary theory with an eye on history will be most appropriate for the analysis. New Historicism will guide the study in appreciating how literary productions are grounded in particular historical realities and manifest certain ideologies.

       Furthermore, a good number of previous studies on the selected literary texts have employed the older form of historical criticism which is still in use today. The focus has been on reading a literary work with a sense of the time and place of its creation. This is necessary, insists historical critics, because every literary work is a product of its time and its world. Historians and literary critics can therefore view the facts of history objectively. The fact that this study veers away from the older form of historical criticism and settles for New Historicism as a theoretical framework makes it refreshing and rewarding. The study will enrich literary scholarship.

       Another relevance of New Historicism as the theoretical framework of this study is that the idea of ‘text’ and ‘performance’ (integral concepts in New Historicism) is the pivot of this study. The concepts of ‘text’ and ‘textuality’ permeates New Historicism. Louis A. Montrose (1989:20), one of the proponents New Historicism, captures it succinctly as “the historicity of the text and the textuality of history.” This implies that we can have no access to a full and authentic past, a lived material existence, unmediated by the surviving textual traces of the society in question. Another notable exponent of New Historicism, Hayden White (1989: 297) gives an apposite remark that: “every approach to the study of the past presupposes or entails some version of textualist theory of historical reality of some kind.” This is in view of the fact that the historical past is accessible to study only by way of its prior textualizations whether in the form of the documentary record or in the form of the account of what happened in the past written up by historians themselves on the basis of their investigation into the record. The import of Montrose and White’s submissions is that text and history are inextricably interwoven. Performance is also integral to New Historicism. The stage performance of historical drama or movie making of momentous historical events refreshes history before the audience’s very eyes. Besides, in the dramatic performances of plays written and published decades or even centuries back, the theatre directors and actors often put the prevailing social attitudes and cultural practices into consideration.


The purposive sample method is employed in the selection of the African plays. The method has a selective method of adopting relevant samples (Kirby et al, 1999).  Toyin Abiodun’s TTA and Efua Sutherland’s TMA were purposively selected due to their African regional representations and the demonstrable deviations between these dramatic texts and their stage performances..

The research is library-based and also entails field work. Several Anglophone African plays are carefully studied, together with the two selected African plays.

The life stage performances of the selected plays are watched. The video recordings of the stage performances of all the selected plays are reviewed.

The sources of the stage performances of the plays are as follows:

  1. The Trials of Afonja :                          University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  2. The Marriage of Anansewa:               University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Library and internet search on relevant materials was also done. In addition, relevant books and research papers were critically studied to discover what had been done so far on text and performance in Anglophone African drama.

Textual analysis of each of the selected texts is followed by the analysis of the stage performances, with particular reference to the deviations between the text and the performance.

Text and Performance Deviations in Selected Texts

Text I: Efua Sutherland’s TMA

Analysis of the Playtext

In Efua Sutherland’s TMA, the lead character, Ananse’s character is crafted to serve society as a medium of self-examination.  The need for that was compelling at the era Efua Sutherland wrote the play. The play was first published in 1975, eighteen years after Ghana attained her independence from the British colonial masters. During this period, Ghana wrestled with post-independent disillusionments such as social contradictions, moral depravity, corruption, political upheavals, poverty, and several others. It was the period in which the first Ghanaian president, Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown by the military, allegedly due to the grand-scale corruption which characterized his regime.  The military took over in February 1966 when Nkrumah left Ghana to visit Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. He was at a stop-over in Beijing on February 23rd when military officers took over his government.  On the positive side, it was during his regime that major development projects took place in Ghana. These include the building of good roads, and the establishment of universities.

TMA has been a commercial success in text, and has been widely performed on stage. Several years ago, it was among the literary texts recommended by the West African Examination Council for Literature in English in the West African School Certificate Examination.  The positive response the play has enjoyed since publication can be attributed to the subtle ways in which it addresses a number of problems which has plagued Ghana, and the African continent in general. The likes of avaricious Ananse, who are soaked up in the culture of consumerism abound. Such people, especially those in leadership positions have put a cog in the wheel of progress in many African countries.

TMA is a well-crafted drama with hints of folk-tale, strewn with hilarious scenes and incidents. The play essentially explores traditions and their loopholes. It projects the whole politics of the bride price. The plot of the play revolves around the character of Ananse, an old rogue who wants to make as much money as possible by marrying off his daughter, Anansewa. He promises her to four well-to-do chiefs at the same time: Chief of the Mines; Togbe Klu IV; the Chief of Sapa, and Chief-Who-Is-Chief. He asks Anansewa to take photographs which he proudly shows the suitors:

ANANSE: Certainly, I covered miles. I travelled the country, by bus, by train, by ferry-boat. I lobbied for introductions into palace after palace. I listened with ears alert. I observed with keen eyes. I assessed everything before I selected the four chiefs to whom I could show your photographs with advantage. (TMA, p. 19).

The above lines demonstrate how calculating, and crafty Ananse is. He employs emotional blackmail to initiate his daughter into his plan of auctioning her by exploiting aspiring suitors. Anansewa draws a reasonable conclusion from his father’s act, and breaks into a song spontaneously, to describe her father’s roguish, selfish act:

My father is selling me,

Alas, Alas!

Whoever thought he would?

Alas, Alas!

But let me tell you bluntly,

I’ll never comply.

I will not let you sell me

Like some parcel to a customer.

Not ever!

Not ever!

Not ever!                             

Not ever!  (19-20)

        Armed with his good knowledge of the traditions, Ananse exploits the loopholes inherent in the tradition on bride price. Until a suitor’s bride price is accepted, and the head-drink ceremony is conducted, he cannot be given the privilege of a husband. Hence, whatever a suitor gives to the bride-to-be or her parents is considered a gift; it is unaccounted for. Knowing fully well that his 20-year-old daughter, Anansewa can be married to only one man despite his enticing four different suitors, he builds a net of competition for prospective suitors to pay their way with gifts. Ananse informs Anansewa on one of such gifts:

ANANSE: Stop just there. You are holding in your hand almost all of the full amount of that ‘thing’. That ‘thing’ is the first solid proof that Chief-Who-Is-Chief is not just showing interest with his mouth. He is willing and eager to oil the wheels of custom; and therefore he has sent something for the maintenance of the object of his interest.  (22).

Anansewa has been out of school for her lack of fees. She acknowledges that the burden of her need is on her father. Ananse identifies and capitalizes on her need for education to manipulate her. Ananse enlists the support of his girlfriend, Christie to disentangle the web of deceit he has spun: With Christie’s active support, Ananse fakes his daughter’s death to deceive the suitors. She eventually ‘resurrects’ and is married off to Chief-Who-Is-Chief, whose motive for intending to marry Anansewa he finds most appealing. Chief-Who-Is-Chief’s messengers express his devastation since he regarded himself as having already married to Anansewa. He promised to bear the whole cost of the funeral.  Touched by his kindness and generosity, Ananse brings his daughter back to life, as she prepares to marry Chief-Who-Is-Chief.

          According to New Historicism theory, even the most powerful discourse is not permanent. Power moves through all social levels, by way of marriage, commerce, and intellectual exchange. Marriage propels the plot of Sutherland’s TMA. As the title of the play suggests, the play centres on her impending marriage. Ordinarily, she cannot marry more than one man at a time. However, her unscrupulous father, Ananse, capitalizes on her beauty, and her desperation to pay her school fees, to collect gifts from different suitors who, coincidentally, fix the dates of the head-drink ceremony at the same time. Through his action, Ananse launches the four chiefs into a power struggle. In the struggle to tie the nuptial knot with Anansewa, Chief-Who-Is-Chief is triumphant. Love triumphs at the end of the play, as Ananse ‘resurrects’ his daughter to marry Chief-Who-Is-Chief. It is instructive to note that Ananse’s action is not triggered by his straitened circumstances. Giving her daughter to one of the chiefs is enough to relieve him considerably of his financial burdens. He is simply a crooked and crafty man, devoid of moral scruples.

      TMA approximates the power relations between an African father and his daughter in the African cultural milieu. Anansewa becomes disconsolate when she sees through her father’s dangerous scheme. In African culture, obedience to parents by children is sacrosanct. Children must respect their parents, almost to the point of veneration.  Anansewa is steadfast in her respect for her father, despite her disappointment. She resigns to her fate, hoping that Ananse will rise to the occasion when it matters most. Power in the play is illustrated as not merely physical force, but a pervasive human dynamic, determining our relationships to others. In the afore-stated scenario, Anansewa and Christie are powerful enough to liberate Ananse from his quagmire. It demonstrates that power is not exclusively class-related; it extends throughout the society.

       In Sutherland’s TMA, Ananse is decidedly a subversive character. Through Ananse’s exploitative act of collecting gifts from four different suitors and promising each of them to give his daughter’s hands in marriage to him, the play generates subversive insights. Ananse explores the loopholes of the tradition of head-drink ceremony in the Ghanaian society. Remarkably, the text contains and undermines its potential for subversion by submitting to and reinforcing the dominant thinking of the day. Ananse is reduced to an emotional wreck, as he suffers a great deal of psychological torture in his struggle to clear the mess he has created for himself by his subversive act. An instance of this is given in one of his dialogic relationships with his dependable lover, Christie:

Text and Performance Deviations in The Marriage of Anansewa

Efua Sutherland’s TMA was the 2015 Convocation Play of the University of Ibadan. It was staged on 14 November, 2015 at the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan. The play was directed by Dr. Soji Cole, a lecturer in the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan. The stage design has a spider drawn in the backstage. This depicts the fact that the playis based on the Ghanaian tradition of Anansesem (Ananse stories), a body of tales on trickster figure, Ananse.

     There are numerous points of divergence between the dramatic text and the stage performance.  Firstly, the players’ singing and dancing become animated in the stage performance.  Like all the members of the cast, they wear Ghanaian costume. In the opening scene of the performance, Anansewa sits, as she needs to type letters, while Ananse delivers his lines standing, moving around the stage. Anansewa stands occasionally to deliver her lines, and engage in stage movements. The father-daughter power relation between Ananse and Anansewa is foregrounded in the performance.  A few of Ananse’s lines in this opening scene are edited out in the performance, especially the long lines. In the performance, Ananse gesticulates a lot in the delivery of his lines. He matches his lines with actions.  He accompanies the lines: “When driver ants…” (TMA, 15) with the stamping of his feet on the ground. 

     In the text, Ananse states: “That’s the story” (18). In contrast, it is the crowd who makes the statement in the performance. Anansewa accompanies her recall of the fuss her father made to have her photograph taken by standing on the chair and posing for a snapshot in the stage performance. Again, the text simply states that Anansewa sings, with the accompaniment of the PLAYERS:

My father is selling me,

Alas, alas!

Whoever thought he would?

Alas, alas! … (19)

In the stage performance, she rolls on the floor, weeping while giving a rendition of the song. Her performance touches appropriate chord in the audience. Besides, the players are more involved in the rendition of the song in the performance than in the text.

      Occasionally, in the performance, the actors do modify the lines in the text. However, the intended meaning is conveyed. This is exemplified in Ananse’s statement: “…when in two months’ time you could have your certificate in your hand?” (21). Another difference between the text and the performance is when Ananse says: “My eyes are my oracle.” (21). In the performance, the statement becomes very forceful, as it is said, not by Ananse, but by the players.  Her mood swing in the text is illuminated in the performance. 

     In the text, after the encounter between Ananse and Anansewa, Storyteller rises among the PLAYERS, and speaks to them. This is not enacted in the stage performance. The next scene in the performance is the encounter between Storytellers and the young couple, Akwasi and Akosua. A sharp contrast between the text and the performance is that while the text has only one Storyteller, there are two Storytellers in the performance. All through the performance, the two Storytellers share the lines of the single Storyteller in the text. They complement each other. The significance of the head-drink ceremony in Ghanaian marriage is foregrounded in the encounter between Akwasi and Akosua. The audience found the scene particularly hilarious. Unlike the man in the text, the role of Postman is played by a lady in the performance. This character deviation from the dramatic text is informed by the fact that the director needs to accommodate the number of students who took part in the production. The director also probably wants a humorous character to play the role, and she fits perfectly into that. Her sense of humour is remarkable. She amuses the audience in all her stage appearances. In the first encounter between Ananse and Postman, Ananse demonstrates his pleasure with the contents of the letter by collecting it with a flourish. Unlike in the text, the scene is ended with a Ghanaian song in the background. The song filters onto the stage periodically, in the course of the performance. The text describes the setting of Act Two of the play thus:

PROPERTY MAN sets a chair and a side table when the dance ends. ANANSE, dressed in a brand-new cloth, enters in good spirits and sits (31).

In the performance, Ananse looks youthful, dressed in a T-shirt, jeans trousers, a face cap, and canvas shoes. An old, analogue telephone is placed on a table.  The church scene, when Ananse goes to church to express his appreciation to God over his recently acquired money is embellished in the stage performance.  The church members sing the song:

Count your blessings

Name them one by one

It will surprise you what the Lord has done

Count your blessings

Count your blessings

See what God has done.

The song, which is not stated in the text, is sang thrice in the performance, amidst gyration from the pastor who holds a big cross, a bell, and wears a white garment with purple surplice and an oversized pair of shoes. He shakes his body rhythmically to the song. An offering basket is placed close to him. Players come on stage in batches, drop their offerings, and sing and dance, as the comical pastor rings the church bell ecstatically. Ananse, apparently in an expansive mood, looking spruced, comes on stage, drops his offering, and joins the pastor in the gyration. The audience laugh uproariously in this hilarious scene.

     Furthermore, in the text, Ananse addresses the workmen collectively. However, in the performance, they are individually addressed. In the text, prior to the arrival of Chief-Who-Is-Chief’s Messenger, Ananse’s request for an electric fan is obliged by Property Man who brings a large toy electric fan for him. In contrast, in the performance, a girl performs the function of an electric fan. She rotates her head to symbolise the movement of electric fan.  This draws spontaneous laughter from the audience. Ananse introduces a new line to the text in the performance when Postman arrives. He says: “You again!” In the text, Chief-Who-Is-Chief’s Messenger is a man. In contrast, a sexy-looking lady plays the role in the performance. She wears a sleeveless blouse, and mini-skirt. She crosses her legs while sitting down, and is highly composed in her dialogue with Ananse. When Ananse’s aunt, Ekuwa says: “Aya, I’m on my knees to you” (45), she kneels down in the performance. Christie, Ananse’s lover, makes a fashion statement with her dressing.  As from this point in the performance, a different actress assumes Anansewa’s role. This manifestly demonstrates the authority of the director as one of the fundamental principles guiding acting (Stanislavski, 1981).  Some of Aya’s lengthy lines in this scene are reduced. In the giving of their gifts to Anansewa, the Players come in pairs to drop the gifts. A pair of Players introduced a line which is not in the text: “Anansewa, may you never be tired on bed.” This triggers an uproarious laughter from the audience.

     In the next encounter between Postman and Ananse, Postman joins Ananse in his dancing on stage-a sharp contrast with the text. The letters the Postman brings throw Ananse into melancholic mood. He shouts, removes his cap, and rolls on the floor. In the text, Anansewa breaks into song:

My heart, my heart,

Stop beating,

My heart, my heart.

The chance has turned to wind,

To wind, wind, wind… (58)

The singing is discernibly different from the performance. While she singlehandedly does the singing in the text, Storytellers and Players are actively involved in the performance. One of the two Storytellers plays the role of a choirmaster, directing the singing.

     Act Four of Sutherland’s TMA is demonstrably different from the performance. The characters of First Woman and Second Woman in the text are not enacted on stage. In this scene, Anansewa is laid on a makeshift bed in the performance. She is dressed in white clothes, as she feigns death. Christie and Ananse wear black clothes-a symbol of mourning. According to the text, Christie carries a clan staff (71). She carries no clan staff in the performance.  There is the editing out of several lines in this scene, especially the Storyteller’s lines. Ananse repeatedly groans in the performance whenever the chiefs’ messengers come one after the other. Whenever he hears a voice outside calling “Agoo!”, which means a visitor wants to enter, Ananse will groan, and say: “uh weh, uh weh” (apparently to underline how grief-stricken he is). He sits, and rolls on the floor, enveloped in pretended sorrow.

     There are variations in the number, gender and actions of the messengers between the text and the performance. In the text, Chief of the Mines’ messengers are two men. (77). Conversely, three ladies play the role of the messengers in the performance. First Messenger does all the talking in the text. In contrast, the lines are shared among the three messengers in the performance. They weep, dab their tear-stained eyes and blow their noses with the face towels they each hold, and squeeze the face towels on Anansewa’s eyes, much to Ananse’s consternation, who keeps on groaning, and chortling: “uh weh, uh weh.” They move round Anansewa’s ‘corpse’, and takes their exit. In a similar vein, two women and a man play the role of Chief Saapase’s Messengers in the text. In the performance, the roles are played by three smartly-dressed ladies. The Male Messenger’s lengthy lines in the text are delivered by the actresses in the performance. One of the ladies holds a towel which they employ in turn to mop the tears in their eyes. They squeeze the watery towel on Anansewa’s head, before taking their exit. The moment they exit from the stage, Christie does something different from the text. She cleans Anasewa’s face, in readiness for the next set of visitors.

     Chief Akate’s Messengers visit next. Unlike the two men in the text, two female characters play the role in the performance. They share the long lines of First Messenger in the text. They weep inconsolably and perform the ritual of moving round Anansewa’s ‘corpse’. Their attempt to embark on another round of weeping after circling round Anansewa is halted in the performance by Ananse, who literally dismisses them with a wave of the hands, having overstayed their welcome.

     The final batch of visitors to pay a condolence visit to Ananse are Chief-Who-Is-Chief’s Messengers. Their exact number is not mentioned in the text. In the performance, three ladies play the role. They look smart in their costume of suit, and black skirt.  Each of them holds a bowl. Their actions in the text demonstrate some variations with the performance. The Messengers’ movement round Anansewa is accompanied by the singing of a solemn, burial song by the Players. The Messengers gather the tears in their eyes, and blow their noses inside the bowls. Their next action leaves Ananse, Christie, and the audience astounded: they drink the contents of the bowls.  To reassure Ananse that their previous action is not inadvertent, the previous ritual is repeated.  Sitting in a corner on stage, Ananse could not belie his elation over Chief-Who-Is-Chief’s Messengers uncommon act. The performance ends with the dancing and singing on stage of Ananse, Christie, Players, and Messengers.

     The stage performance of The Marriage of Anansewa is impressive.  The director successfully transforms the play from play text to performance text. The casting is commendable. The actors and actresses all play their roles well. The choreography of the Players is well above average. The choreographer does a marvelous job on the Players, who entertain the audience with their melodious songs, dances, and choreography. Their appearances on stage accomplish the intended purpose of sustaining the attention of the audience. The costumes contribute immeasurably towards the depiction of the Ghanaian setting of the play. Ghanaian culture is vividly portrayed in the performance. The costumes individuate the characters. For instance, the messengers of each of the four suitors wear diverse costumes. Lighting is put into excellent effect on stage.

Text II: Toyin Abiodun’s The Trials of Afonja

Analysis of the Playtext

TTA is a dramatic resurrection of the enthralling story of Afonja, the Generalissimo of Oyo’s army in the old Oyo Empire during the reign of Alaafin (King) Aole, who assumed the throne after the death of Alaafin Abiodun in 1789. Like King Claudius whose reign is turbulent as a result of the power struggle between him and Prince Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s evergreen tragedy, Hamlet, Alaafin Aole’s reign was plagued by crises triggered by the power struggle between him and Afonja.

       According to the historical account, the old Oyo Empire had an unwritten constitution which was famously and jealously guarded by the supreme military council, the Oyo Mesi. In the prologue of the play, the two historians expressly state this age-long tradition. The tradition was that once in three years, the Aare Ona Kakanfo and his army must go into war, in consonance with the Empire’s expansionist drive.  In the wars, victory was obligatory and defeat carried the duty of committing suicide.

         Alaafin Aole gives a detailed explanation to Afonja on the motive behind the aura of invincibility the Oyo army must maintain, while mandating him to obey the dictates of w custom and tradition by taking the calabash and committing suicide. This do-or-die policy contributed immeasurably to the military aggressiveness of the Oyo generals. The aura of invincibility also guaranteed the payment of tributes, levies, duties and allegiance to the centre by the vassal states (Ajayi & Smith, 1989).

        However, during Alaafin Aole’s reign, Afonja returns home alive after losing a battle to the Bambaras. When Laroka breaks the news to the Alaafin that Afonja is back from the battle with the Bambaras, Alaafin Aole’s suspicion that something is amiss becomes instantly aroused. This is as a result of the decidedly unusual nature of Afonja’s arrival. Laroka’s statement later proves to be truth. Afonja returns to Oyo, despite having not emerged victorious in the war with the Bambaras, after twenty-nine consecutive victories in war-fares. Afonja stoutly refuses to open the calabash and commit suicide as the custom demands.In a calculated attempt to eliminate Afonja whose presence he has grown increasingly uncomfortable with, Alaafin, unaccountably orders Afonja to attack Apomu, a sister town, and bring the head of the Baale of Apomu. The Oyomesi initially express their reservations over the decidedly abominable act, as captured by LAGUNA:

To attack Apomu is to attack Ife. To attack Ife amounts to slapping our own father in the face. Ife is his place! All the Yoruba states and provinces have a pact never to do it. It is an abomination (TTA, p.39).

They later give their consent. Much to the Alaafin’s chagrin and utter consternation, Afonja comes back alive with the head of the Baale who, in a bid to avert the shedding of the innocent blood of the Apomu citizens peacefully and voluntarily submits himself to Afonja for decapitation. Afonja presents the head of Baale Apomu to Alaafin in a calabash. From that point, reality dawns on Alaafin that Afonja is his antagonist who must be eliminated at all costs. He then orders Afonja to go and sack Iwere, a fortified, a impregnable place, and race it to dust. Afonja does not mince words about the seeming impossibility of the task:

Raze Iwere to dust?!…Those people built their city on highlands surrounded by huge mountains from where they protect themselves; they are good archers. Before their enemies reach their terrain, they tear into them with torrents of poisoned arrows. I am destined not to fall at the feet of anyone; but I do not wish for my men to die foolishly. Iwere! That will be certain suicide (102).

Afonja’s description of Iwere is devoid of exaggeration, as it aligns with Samuel Johnson’s description of Iwere as “a place fortified by nature and by art, and impregnable to the simple weapons of those days’’ (Samuel Johnson, 1937:40). Alaafin’s action is an eloquent testimony of his awareness of the reality of the threat Afonja’s presence poses to him. However, Afonja as the Kakanfo, by the oaths of his office, must either conquer within three months or die. He takes the bull by the horns and attacks Iwere. With the unflinching support he receives from his Esos and the Fulanis, Afonja he emerges victorious.

        The Oyomesi send an empty calabash to Alaafin as a traditional expression of their disapproval of Aole as the Alaafin of Oyo. The Oyomesi feel that Alaafin Aole is a terribly wrong choice on the throne.  Alaafin’s decision to send the army to attack and destroy Apomu partly because he has an axe to grind with the Baale proves to be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. According to tradition, attacking a town in the Ife kingdom was an unwise decision because of the ancient Yoruba taboos prohibiting an attack by any Yoruba kingdom on any part of the Ife kingdom. Alaafin has to commit suicide as the custom demands, after being given the calabash by Lafianu. Bashorun boldly informs Alaafin:

The people reject you! The Oyomesi reject you! I reject you! I reject you! The gods of our fathers reject you!  (118).

Prior to committing suicide, Alaafin heaps a curse on the Yoruba race. Afonja is later killed by the Fulani warriors on the order of the itinerant Fulani scholar of Islam, Alimi. Alimi’s action is triggered by Afonja’s plan to return to and possibly rule Ilorin. Afonja dies on his feet, with a phalanx of arrows and spears shot into his body.

        TTA is a commercial success. It has been recommended for students in the Departments of Theatre Arts and English in a number of universities in Nigeria. The cardinal issues addressed in the play might have made many readers in contemporary Nigeria to have found the play compelling. TTA was written at a time Nigeria was beset with leadership problem. We must hasten to add here that the leadership problem still exists in Nigeria and is endemic in many African countries and several countries across the globe. The play interrogates the question of leadership, and even followership. Leadership is Abiodun’s major thematic preoccupation in the play. Embedded in this theme is the issue of power struggle, which permeates the fabric of the play, and propels its plot.

Text and Performance Deviations in Toyin Abiodun’s The Trials of Afonja

Students of the Department of English, University of Ilorin, staged TTA on 9 February, 2016 at the University’s Arts Theatre. It constituted the Theatre Workshop course of the 300 level students of the Department. The stage performance was directed by Mr. Benjamin Adaniken, while Dr. D.K. Afolayan was the course coordinator. The performance commenced at 4 p.m. prompt.

     Differences abound between the dramatic text and the stage performance. Some of these differences will be examined. Unlike the dramatic text whose prologue ends with the exit of the two Historians, the prologue of the stage performance witnesses the coming on stage of Afonja. His entrance on stage is greeted with a spontaneous response from the audience.  He is a tall, imposing man. He is accompanied by a female character who praise-sings him as he struts the stage. His entrance is accompanied by the background song which, like most of the songs in the stage performance, is rendered in Yoruba language. It goes thus:

Itan Ilu Ilorin ree o:                 This is a story of Ilorin town            

Itan Afonja, okunrin ogun:     The story of Afonja, the man of valour.

The song is repeated in the backstage all through the stage performance. It serves as a reminder to the audience that Afonja’s character towers above every other character in the play. The play revolves around him. No sooner had Afonja exited the stage than an Old Witch arrived on stage, accompanied by a Young Witch who carries a pot of fire. Old Witch and Young Witch wear red blouse and black skirt. The costume depicts them as witches. The make-up they wear darkens their faces and hands, further accentuating their witch appearance. A tract of smoke trails their entrance and exit. A song accompanies their entrance and exit. The accompaniment bestows more respect on the character of Old Witch, who becomes more convincing in the stage performance than in the text.

     Several lines in the opening scene of Incident 1 when Laroka barges into the palace to break the news of Afonja’s arrival are not enacted in the stage performance. Afonja’s riotous entrance into Alaafin’s palace in Incident 1 of the play is animated in the stage performance. Unlike in the text, he is accompanied in the stage performance not only by Arere, but also three drummers who literally usher him on stage. The dramatic text simply states that: “A fearsome-looking man in war clothes {AFONJA} is the cynosure of all eyes” (TTA, 9). His fearsome look is foregrounded in the stage performance. He wears a black, sleeveless cloth filled with small calabash vials, royal beads on neck and hand, charms, a scabbard, a spear, a skull, cowries, a skullcap, leather pouch, animal skin, and holds a staff which is covered with clothes and charms. All through the stage performance, Afonja usually pokes the ground with the staff whenever he wants to emphasise a statement.   

     The high point of Incident 1 of the play is when Afonja suddenly orders for the discontinuation of the celebration, as he is eager to have a private discussion with Alaafin. In the dramatic text, Afonja seizes the drumsticks of some of the drummers, removes a drummer’s cap and beats the drummers with it (16). He does not do this in the performance.

     Several lines of the characters in the scene are chopped off in the performance, especially in the course of the private discussion between Afonja and Alaafin. This is to reduce the time it will take to complete the performance. The scene is the first instance of the demonstration of the power struggle between Afonja and Oyo Mesi on one hand, and between Afonja and Alaafin on the other hand. The nuances of the expressions of the Oyo Mesi are fully realised in the performance, as they are astounded that Afonja could ask them to leave the palace together with the people of Oyo. Alaafin oozes authority on stage, and takes charge of the situation. He shouts on them to call them to order. All the people in the palace, except Afonja, prostrate immediately, reflecting the historical and socio-cultural context of the play. Afonja moves about on stage, stamps his staff on the ground repeatedly as a symbol of authority. His subversive nature and power struggle with Alaafin is fully absorbed by the audience in the scene. The text states that:

ARERE enters under spotlight as IFAWOLE the BABALAWO. He is assisted by a dundun Drummer as they both engage in invoking sleep by supernatural means. (22).

     The stage performance adopts a different approach towards ensuring the success of the Oyo army in the war with the Bambaras. A new scene is introduced in the stage performance. In this scene, the stage is bare. Afonja, assisted by Ifawole, brings a sacrificefor Esu (Laaroye) on stage. Their costumes depict the roles they play in the scene. Ifawole, as the Babalawo, wears white clothes and beads. He carries a white calabash. A white wrapper covers Afonja’s sleeveless top. He carries a bigger calabash, and kneels, as Ifawole prays. Afonja drops the calabash which contains the sacrifice gingerly. Mission accomplished, Afonja and Ifawole exit the stage, moving backwards rhythmically, to the accompaniment of a song. This is followed by another new scene which is not in the dramatic text. In this scene, Esu (Laaroye) enters the stage, crawling. His costume and make-up commendably approximate the Yoruba concept of Esu: a black cap, an overall cloth of black with red stripe, darkened face, darkened hands, long nails, grotesque appearance in general. A tract of smoke trails Esu’s entrance and exit on stage. The idea of his crawling on stage is also fantastic, as his entrance and exit arouse sustained curiosity and excitement in the audience. Esu crawls closer and closer to his sacrifice, laughing raucously: “Ah Ah Ah Ah.” He devours the sacrifice and crawls out of the stage, taking the remnants of the sacrifice along with him. The Esu scene in the stage performance reflects the Yoruba cultural milieu and belief in sacrificing to the gods, and also the significance of the acceptance of the sacrifices by these gods.

     The fight between Afonja and Ekerin amply demonstrates the power struggle between them. Afonja triumphs, as he floors Ekerin. He promptly collects a sword from one of the generals and stabs Ekerin to death with it. Ekerin’s corpse is later carried off stage. The love-making scene between the Oyo Generals and the Bambara women is vividly portrayed in the stage performance. According to the text, “amidst the darkness, moans and screams of sexual passion are heard.’’(31). In the stage performance, the stage is bright. Two women romance each of the Oyo Generals, and the scene is sexually explicit. A woman commenced the enticement by flaunting her bums and voluptuous breasts before one of the soldiers, who becomes instantly sexually aroused. The men fondle the women’s breasts, and the women respond remarkably well, drawing spontaneous laughter and excitement from the audience. The love-making between the Oyo Generals and the Bambaras women is demonstrated in their body language. The scene showcases another point of divergence between the dramatic text and the stage performance. The text states that Bambara men suddenly enter the stage while the Oyo Generals moan with pleasure in the heat of their love-making with the Bambara women (31). Conversely, in the stage performance, a Bambara woman serves the Oyo Generals poisoned drink in the course of their love-making with the Bambara women. The Oyo Generals writhe in pain, and die, one after the other. The deviation is informed by the fact that it will be easier and cheaper to enact what is done in the stage performance that what is stated in the dramatic text in this particular case. The women celebrate their victory, or the role they play in the victory. The scene demonstrates one of the tenets of Foucault’s discourse theory: power is not exclusively class-related; it permeates every fabric of the society. The ordinary spoils of war are the ones who turn things around dramatically for the Bambaras in the war.

     The scene returns to the present moment, in which Afonja and Alaafin continue their private dialogue. Several lines from the text are edited out in the stage performance. The discussion on Alaafin’s mother in the text is edited out in the performance. Alaafin’s lengthy explanation to Afonja on the reason Afonja must obey the tradition by committing suicide is edited out in the performance. In the dramatic text, as Afonja angrily leaves Alaafin’s palace, the Oyomesi, which consists of seven members, and Otun and Osi enter the stage to meet Alaafin in the palace. In contrast, only three members of Oyomesi come to the palace in the stage performance. This is most probably informed by the theatre director’s belief that the three characters can adequately capture the message of the scene. More often than not, theatre directors are more concerned about the message than the messenger. The three Oyomesi members all dress like Yoruba chiefs, putting on agbada, caps, royal beads and hand beads. Bashorun holds a staff with which he gesticulates while speaking. Many of the lines of these Oyomesi members are edited out. After the Oyomesi and Alaafin leave the stage, the three palace guards converge, apparently to gossip about the unfolding events, and later disperse. This is not in the dramatic text.

     Incidents 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17 and 20 of the text are not enacted in the stage performance due to time constraint. To mitigate the effect of this, 1st Historian who doubles as the Narrator comes on stage again after Incident 7 to narrate the coming events. According to the Narrator, Alaafin asks Afonja to launch an attack on Apomu, and raze everything into ashes, and bring the head of the Baale of Apomu. This, the Narrator states, is a ploy to turn the whole of the Yoruba race against Afonja. Rather than allowing Afonja to kill the people of Apomu, Apomu releases his head for decapitation.

     Incident 3 of the text is also pronouncedly different from the stage performance. The scene in the text takes place in Akesan Market which witnesses the interaction between buyers and sellers. The witches occupy one part of the market. The buying and selling scene is not enacted in the stage performance, which plunges straight to the convergence of the six witches. They enter the bare stage in backwards steps and rhythmic movement to a song in the background, with a tract of smoke on their trail. Their costumes and make-up perfectly depict their roles as witches-a set of people who dwell in the supernatural realm. They wear black dress. Red scarfs are knotted round their stomach. The make-up artistes of the stage production do a marvelous job of creating the impression of witches on them. Their faces and hands are heavily darkened, and their teeth blackened. The smoke billows on, as they form two rows of three witches per role. Their rhythmic movement is sustained all through the scene.  The text is completely silent on their physical appearance.

     Not long after, Iya Mode (Yeye Eleye) enters the stage, accompanied by a young witch who carries a burning pot with a thick swab of cloth. The power relation between Iya Mode and the six witches is evinced in the costume. Iya Mode’s red clothes and the fact that she is accompanied by a young witch shows that as her name, Yeye Eleye implies, she is the mother or leader of the witches. This power relation is further captured as the scene unfolds when the six witches plead on behalf of Afonja who, unlike the sober, pathetic, apologetic figure he cuts in the text, maintains a strong, resolute stance in the stage performance, leaving the stage in a fit of anger. The reasons for his anger are the witches’ failure to give him victory against the Bambaras, and their preposterous request that he should donate his beloved wife, Demoke to them as ‘meat’ for sacrifice. In the dramatic text, in the encounter with the witches, Afonja is followed by Arere. In contrast, Afonja is unaccompanied in the stage performance. He enters the stage in backward steps. New lines are introduced in the performance.

     There is a power struggle between Afonja and Iya Mode in the stage performance. Iya Mode vows to deal with him, despite the pleas from the six witches, who say:

Yeye, please think of the future

Don’t do what you are about to do

Yeye, think of the people of Oyo

Think of our children.

Yeye Eleye retorts: “Afonja should have thought of that before.” When the witches plead with Yeye Eleye, they kneel, while Yeye Eleye stands. 

     There are differences between Incident 6 of the dramatic text and the stage performance. In the text, Afonja and Kaosarat are already together, when the rough-looking men come. In the stage performance, the reverse is the case: Kaosarat is already embroiled in an altercation with the men when Afonja comes on stage. In the text, the men are three. They are only two in the performance. In addition, while Afonja fights with the men in the text, he does not fight with them in the stage performance. He only chases them away, as they pose little or no resistance to him. The moment he reveals his identity to the unkempt men, they become filled with trepidation. They promptly pay Kaosarat her money.  They subject Kaosarat to minimal humiliation in the performance, unlike the great humiliation they subject her to in the text such as the tossing of her headdress amongst themselves, and the removing of her wrapper and throwing it around (62). In the text, Afonja and Kaosarat exit without betraying any emotion. In the stage performance, Afonja admires Kaosarat and surveys her lustfully.

     There is a sharp contrast between Incident 12 of the text and its equivalent in the stage performance. The text opens thus:

Enter ALIMI from within (backstage) in sparse clothing which shows he now lives in AFONJA’s compound. He admires the furnishing, ornaments, and artifacts

 in Afonja’s courtyard (79).

In contrast, the stage performance opens with Alimi, Kaosarat, and some Fulani people’s visit to Afonja in his new base, Ilorin. The Fulani men and ladies perform Fulani songs and dances for Afonja, who looks visibly impressed and elated. The songs and dances and the costumes reflect the socio-cultural background of the Fulani people. This scene is coalesced into the ending of Incident 14 of the text during which Demoke enters the stage, and is incensed to see Afonja cuddling Halima. Momentarily, Demoke exits from the stage, and soon re-enters, carrying her load, apparently in readiness to discontinue her marriage with Afonja, following his decision to marry a second wife. She is visibly disturbed. A sarcastic song in the background accompanies her actions. The song makes reference to Demoke’s rash decision to follow Afonja to Ilorin, disregarding her father, Alaafin’s contrary advice. Demoke weeps uncontrollably, and tells Afonja: “After all I did for you. I left Alaafin because of you.” Afonja placates Demoke, who leaves the stage, demented with grief. Demoke’s action demonstrates how the play reflects the socio-cultural milieu of the period of its writing. Toyin Abiodun’s TTA was first published in 2012. This is a contemporary period in Nigerian history when Nigerian women are becoming increasingly disenchanted with polygamy. The popularity of polygamy has witnessed a steady decline in recent years. Most Nigerian women do not want to share their husbands with any other woman for any reason whatsoever. Even among the muslims, whose religion permits polygamy, it is becoming unfashionable.

      The final scene of the text (Incident 21) also shows some differences from the stage performance. The Awujale of Ijebuland and the Etsu of Nupe and their people’s appearance is not enacted on stage.  The people of Oyo wear green clothes. Men and women who wear matching costumes cluster in twos, and engage in a highly choreographed dancing which noticeably excited the audience. The men carry the women romantically off the centre of the stage. Singing and performance precede the presentation of the gifts to Alaafin. Guards take the gifts inside. The chaos which envelopes the stage in the text the moment Afonja, Alimi, Afonja’s Esos, and the Fulani warriors enter the stage is animated in the stage performance. The battle scene excites the audience.  Unlike in the text, Demoke briefly mourns the dead Alaafin, shakes his body, spots the small calabash vial of poison, faces the audience, drinks it, and drops dead. When Afonja closes Demoke’s eyes, he mourns her briefly in the performance.  He laments: “Ah! Demoke!” He carries Demoke’s corpse, and faces the audience. He asks Arere:

Is there a place for Demoke to be buried?

Go and find out!

In the stage performance, the moment Alimi and other Fulanis exit the stage, the other actors return on stage one by one to join Arere in the lamentation Afonja’s demise.  They all bow for Afonja who dies on his feet. This is now creatively converted to a curtain call, as the audience clap in admiration and appreciation of a wonderful stage performance.

     Without doubt, songs are effectively employed in the performance to depict the atmosphere of the particular scene. There is melody in the songs, and the composers demonstrate creativity. Costumes and make-up are also put to effective use. The costumes in the performance achieve the principal roles of costumes in stage performances: revealing the culture and the period of the play; revealing the actors’ social status and positions; assisting in characterisation; establishing the relationship between the characters, and individualising the characters. Afonja always wears his war cap, and goes about with his staff. The Fulani men and women such as Kaosarat and Halima are always on Fulani clothes.

     Finally, the director plays a close attention to verisimilitude. None of the witches is light-complexioned. They are all dark or chocolate-an index of the darkness of the minds of witches. The Fulani men and women such as Alimi, Kaosarat and Halima, are light-complexioned. This enables the director to achieve verisimilitude; Fulani people are usually light in complexion. All in all, the stage production is commendable.


Dramatists are conscious of the compelling need for the performance of their dramatic texts. They often look forward to when their play texts would go on stage, and become fully realised in actual performance. The study has invalidated a common notion among the audience that a good performance must be explicitly faithful to its text. It has revealed that deviations between dramatic texts and their stage performances are intentionally done by theatre directors for practical and logistic reasons.

    The study has foregrounded the nexus between text and performance, with a particular reference to the selected Anglophone African plays. The study validates the assertion of H.D.F Kiito (1964) that focusing alone on the dramatic text, and neglecting the performance, translates to a neglect of a major part of the evidence in dramatic communication. The stage performance of the dramatic texts considered in this study illuminate how performances blow life into the text, and even enhance the comprehension of the dramatic texts. The research has also proved that, the fact that the directors of the plays typically maintain the storylines of the dramatic texts, shows that the directors acknowledge the fact that the play text is the raw material which they rely on, and then transform to performance text on stage.

       More of points of divergence and less of points of convergence are observed in the comparative analyses of the text and performance in the plays examined in the study. The import of this is that, in the process of transforming a play from playtext to performance text, theatre directors characteristically tamper considerably with the dramatic text. This demonstrates the complexity of the interplay between text and performance in Anglophone African drama.

.     Another major conclusion made in the study is that indeed, there are points of convergence and divergence between African dramatic texts and their stage performances. The divergences which usually outweigh the convergences are deliberate, as directors intentionally and pragmatically deviate from dramatic texts without prejudice to the storyline nor the historicity of the text. Hence, the divergence between text and performance is creativity.


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