Why is Canadian history so boring

Political theater

Geoffrey V. Davis

To person

Dr. habil., born 1943; Chair of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS); Associate Professor for Postcolonial English Literature, Institute for English Studies, RWTH Aachen, 52056 Aachen.
Email: [email protected]

The article deals with the post-colonial drama in English. His endeavors to reinterpret colonial history as well as the interaction of European and indigenous forms of theater are discussed.


Postcolonial drama in English is one of the most important and exciting phenomena in contemporary theater. It is a form of drama that is largely political, engages with Western texts and performance practices, and thus occasionally becomes a challenge to traditional Western European drama. In addition, it is a form of theater that exerts considerable influence, but has so far been wrongly neglected by theater critics and scholars.

From a political point of view, Anglophone postcolonial drama is initially understood to mean works from countries that were once colonized by Great Britain. (Accordingly, there are similar phenomena in the former French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies.) Based on their geographical origin - and so the area is technically (not quite logically) delimited - there are theater texts from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Caribbean, South Asia (especially India) as well as from West and East Africa and southern Africa (especially South Africa, but also Zimbabwe and Namibia).

In the colonial era, the areas mentioned were either settler colonies, countries in which whites settled and stayed (Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa), or occupied countries (in South Asia, the Caribbean and Africa), which the Europeans after largely left after decolonization. A tradition more strongly influenced by British culture has survived to this day in the former settler colonies, while this is hardly the case in the occupied territories, especially after the colonizers have withdrawn. The situation in the settler colonies was ambivalent from the start, as the settlers themselves not only formed a population colonized by Great Britain, but in turn also colonized the natives in their own country and, if one looks at the situation of Australian or Canadian natives, this up to do today.

When we call the drama we are discussing "post-colonial", it means that we are looking at it primarily in relation to the imperialist history of Great Britain, the colonial system and the process of decolonization. These are dramas that see themselves as a confrontation with the discourse of colonization, designed as an intervention in social conditions, which are essentially political.

The term postcolonialism, however, is not free from contradictions and is now quite controversial. One of the objections is the idea that he always puts the reference to colonialism in the foreground, as if there was no independent indigenous culture outside of the colonial field of vision. Another serious disadvantage of the term stems from the political reality: in the former settler colonies, many indigenous peoples perceive their environment by no means as post-colonial, but rather as neo-colonial. Helen Gilbert and Joanne Tompkins point to the various forms of neo-colonialism which determine the global world and which are by no means only of British or Western European origin. [1] As a representative of the Canadian first nations, the indigenous peoples of Canada, recently wrote to me: "I have not yet discovered the post-colonialism post."