LMU played host to the prestigious African Theatre Association conference at the end of July, bringing hundreds of scholars and performers to campus to exchange ideas about developments in African theatre and view performances.
This was the first time the conference has been hosted in North America, said Kevin Wetmore, professor of theatre arts at LMU and author of Athenian Sun in an African Sky: Modern African Adaptation of Classical Greek Tragedy and Black Dionysus: Greek Tragedy and African American Theatre, among other works.
The theme of the conference was “Performing Africa in the Motherland and in the Americas.” Panels and presentations focused on the question of how “Africa” is presented and performed, not just within Africa, but also by those of African descent outside of the continent
“We’re proud to have been able to host this conference at LMU,” said Bryant Keith Alexander, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Art. “It reflects our commitment to engaging with the international community as part of the university’s educational mission.”
Presentations covered topics ranging from black British representation to the use of hip hop in community theatre. One highlight was Ethiopian stage legend Debebe Eshetu in conversation with Elias Wondimu of the academic press Tsehai Publishers, which is based at LMU. A screening of Eshetu’s latest film, Alim Adumin, followed.
Conference organizers tweeted updates throughout the event, which can be seen online at https://twitter.com/afta_news.
The African Theatre Association is an international nonprofit society open to scholars and practitioners of African performance and theatre. In addition to the annual conferences, the association publishes a journal, African Performance Review, that helps “define and shape African performance and theatre scholarship and pedagogy by liberating them from a bondage to non-African discursive framework,” according to their website.
Past conferences have been held in Cape Town, South Africa, London and in 2014 in Accra, Ghana.