Dr Arifani Moyo

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Personal profile

I completed my PhD in 2016, on the topic of indigeneity and South African theatre. My writing, research and sponsorship were part of the international, multidisciplinary humanities research project, Indigeneity in the Contemporary World: Politics, Performance, Belonging (2009–2014), a project that Professor Helen Gilbert initiated and led with funding from the European Research Council. In the theatre department, I contributed as peer reviewer, editor and conference organizer for Platform Journal. My previous studies were in South Africa, where I also trained and practiced as an actor and drama educator for ten years.

Research interests

I published works and delivered conference papers on aspects of performance, identity and cultural theory, while my main research interests were within the scope of theatre and African studies. My main research trajectory began by looking at contentious ethical, political and philosophical issues at specific sites and moments of the engagements between theatre, subjectivity and identity politics within a post-apartheid South African context. My first monograph explores the theme of ‘deconstructing the native’ and ‘imagining the post-native’ through theatre and theory. The analysis looks at the controversial aesthetics and profile of South African intercultural, Afro-postmodern avant-garde theatre company, Third World Bunfight, and the ideas of its founder, shamanistic performance director, Brett Bailey. His earliest, groundbreaking works, a trilogy of ritualistic ‘plays of miracle and wonder’ (1996–1999), grounds a postmodern critique of authenticity, a critique focusing on the deconstruction of fundamentalisms about ‘race’ and cultural propriety. My doctoral research moved to a more humanistic philosophical inquiry into what authenticity itself means for the subjectivity of its own actors, in particular within the metaphysics of indigeneity, still within a post-apartheid South African context. The thesis analyses four high-profile works, namely, Richard Loring’s dance-musical-percussion pageant, African Footprint (2000), Magnet Theatre’s avant-garde dance-drama, Rain in a Dead Man’s Footprints (2004), Isango Ensemble’s post-classicist opera-film, uCarmen eKhayelitsha (2005), and Yael Farber’s post-naturalist drama, Mies Julie (2012). I argue that South African indigeneity is most palpable through the metaphysics of filiation, which theatre narrates through the themes of nativity, orphanhood and adoption as progeny desire intimacy with progenitors, closeness to origins and belonging in milieus.


My previous, diverse pedagogical experience included university teaching assignments as well as participation in educational projects, applying theatre-in-education methodologies, outside the university context. In 2005 and 2006, I was a postgraduate assistant at the University of KwaZulu-Natal drama department, where I undertook teaching duties for undergraduate groups. I gave first-year undergraduate lectures on the politics of drama and marked their ensuing written assignments. I tutored first-year and second-year undergraduates in acting, voice and recital, supervising their practical work and also directing their practical exam presentations. In 2006, I devised, directed and choreographed a musical theatre production, Bambelela Sisajika, with a cast of seventy students from Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School. In 2006 and 2007, I was a co-facilitator and performer in Gene There, Done That, an educational play-workshop that the South African Ministry of Education project, PUB (Public Understating Of Biotechnology), commissioned for the Lesotho National Science Week (Maseru), Scifest (Science Festival, Grahamstown) and peri-urban high schools in Pietermaritzburg. In 2008 and 2009, I contributed to the yearly holiday tutoring program of the Student Leadership Development Office at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. My task was to design and undertake one-day public speaking workshops for student leaders from various departments. In 2010, I was a co-facilitator and performer in The Green Elephant, an educational play-workshop that Thembalethu Trust commissioned to tour primary schools in Pietermaritzburg.

Educational background

2016, PhD, Theatre Studies, Royal Holloway University of London

2009, MA, Drama and Performance Studies (Cum Laude), University of KwaZulu-Natal

2004, BA Honours, Drama Studies (Cum Laude), University of KwaZulu-Natal

2003, BA, Drama Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal

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