Apartheid Acting Out: Trauma, Confession and the Melancholy of Theatre in Yaël Farber's He Left Quietly
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Theatre Research International
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In 1984, Duma Kumalo was sentenced to death under the apartheid law of common purpose. He was only spared by the transitional negotiations that led to South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994. However, his suffering did not end with his release. Nor did his appearance alongside many other victims of human rights abuse at the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission provide any measure of therapeutic relief. Instead, he continued to confess, as part of his performance in Yaël Farber's He Left Quietly (2002), to a trauma so overwhelming as to undo, it seems, any such a claim to healing. It has now been ten years since Kumalo passed away and this article returns to Farber's play in order to examine the theatrical form this melancholy takes, the challenge it poses to confessional orthodoxy and the ethical ends towards which such a melancholy performance might potentially drive, even still.
- Department of Drama