Political prostitutes: conflicting loyalties and identities in middle-class Zimbabwean popular theatre (1998–2008)

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1 Scopus citations


Middle-class popular theatre narratives and discourses emanating from various crisis-driven contexts in Zimbabwe reflect prevalent political affiliations, sentiments and interests. Methodologically, Marx's historical–materialist framework offers a means of analysing middle-class's vacillating economic status, political shifts and realignments drawn from specific scenarios of everyday life and stage performances. The article argues that in the context of a rapidly changing, complex and conflict-filled world, boundaries between staged performances and everyday life performances unavoidably become blurred, not only out of the dire need to evade political censorship and restrictions, but also because of the need for political survival and realignment. On both the performance stage and in their everyday life performances, the middle class is constantly involved not only in forging strategic alliances, but also in constructing and staging its class identities (Schechner 2003, p. 5). Its location between the elite and the low class accounts for the intermediate class's vacillating tendencies especially in crisis-filled situations. Through the double lens of performance theory and historical materialism, this article illuminates the complexities of shifting identities, loyalties and power bases in both staged popular theatre performances and everyday life performances among the Zimbabwean middle class.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-75
Number of pages15
JournalSouth African Theatre Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 3 2014


  • middle class theatre
  • performance and everyday life
  • political theatre and popular theatre
  • protest theatre
  • Theatre
  • theatre censorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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