• Performance and Politics in a Time of Confinement: Virtual Stages between South Africa and African America

    Loren Kruger (see profile)
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    This essay spotlights performances, social and artistic, in 2020 that touch points on the circum-Atlantic routes that have linked Africa, African-America and Europe for centuries and which speak to the long history as well as to present expressions of sorrow and revolt in the crisis and confinement of the COVID-19 pandemic. I use the intimate reception of performance in confinement and at times and locations at odds with the performance to reflect on performance and time and performance in times, especially the asynchronous experience of watching shows recorded months or years earlier in distant places. I focus on the rearrangement of Reuben Caluza’s dirge Influenzacomposed in response to the 1918 pandemic by Philip Miller with video by Marco Martins, which captures people in confinement and during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, and on Neo Muyanga’s A Maze in Grace which uses music, dance to explore the links among Liverpool, which housed slaver later preacher John Newton who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace, former slave coasts of West Africa and Muyanga’s South Africa, with the site of the premiere in former slave port São Paolo. These pieces, especially Amazing Grace, prompt reflection on contagion, mourning and acknowledgment along the circum-Atlantic from Charleston to Chicago. Keywords: African America, audiencing, choral song, circum-Atlantic, COVID-19, hymn, Miller, Muyanga, structural racism. South Africa
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    6 months ago
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