Jordan Phillips (UCL) - 2016-17 Students

Carnival and the carnivalesque in Francophone Caribbean Theatre

My research project aims to evaluate the influence of carnival on theatre produced in the French-speaking Caribbean (the overseas départements of Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyane, as well as Haïti) from the late 1960s until the present day. A key aspect of my research will be its anthropological foundation. To this end, I will engage with the evolution of the carnival as a socio-cultural manifestation in order to determine what is at stake psychologically, politically and aesthetically in this semi-orchestrated, semi-improvised performance. The main objective, however, will be to examine how this phenomenon is re-inscribed and re-performed in text-based drama. Focussing on a corpus of plays written by Daniel Boukman, Ina Césaire, Simone Schwarz-Bart and Maryse Condé, I will chart a change in orientation over the second half of the twentieth century towards a theatre which focuses on contemporary socio-political issues as opposed to staging revolt against colonial order. I am also interested in Bakhtin’s concept of social and literary carnivalesque, with its chaotic role reversals and parodies forming an aesthetic whole. This is a useful intellectual configuration to use when useful in investigating the possibility of a specifically Creole theatre, one which testifies to a new, distinct aggregate borne out of various cultural interactions in the Antillean region.

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