Constructing nation and identity in post-apartheid South Africa: a reading of Janice Honeyman’s pantomime version of Peter Pan

Tamara Louise Kenny Bezuidenhout, Marié-Heleen Coetzee


South African theatre has a long history of importing, translating, and adapting a variety of European scripts and stories and of staging them in different and innovative ways. Post-apartheid, the practice of theatrical imports and ‘translations’ continues in both the medium and content of the productions produced on local stages. Pantomime is one such format that has been transported to South Africa and that has been absorbed into the South African offering of entertainment options. To date, research on pantomime in South Africa has centred mainly on the British tradition of pantomime and on historical overviews of pantomime in South Africa until the nineteenth century. Little attention has been paid to the ideological implications of translating or reinterpreting pantomime texts into the postcolonial and post-apartheid South African context. By extension, the potential for enforcing hegemony through these translations as they pertain to nation and identity in the South African context has largely been ignored. This study aims to investigate the re-appropriation, translation and staging of colonial pantomime texts, formats and content in the postcolonial and post-apartheid South African theatrical context by exploring the ways in which Janice Honeyman’s 2007 pantomime of Peter Pan: a Swashbuckling Adventure constructs nation and identity within this context.

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303