Ghana's Concert Party Theatre
Catherine M. Cole
An engaging history of Ghana's enormously popular concert party theatre
Under colonial rule, the first concert party practitioners brought their comic variety shows to audiences throughout what was then the British Gold Coast colony. As social and political circumstances shifted through the colonial period and early years of Ghanaian independence, concert party actors demonstrated a remarkable responsiveness to changing social roles and volatile political situations as they continued to stage this extremely popular form of entertainment. Drawing on her participation as an actress in concert party performances, oral histories of performers, and archival research, Catherine M. Cole traces the history and development of Ghana's concert party tradition. She shows how concert parties combined an eclectic array of cultural influences, adapting characters and songs from American movies, popular British ballads, and local story-telling traditions into a spirited blend of comedy and social commentary. Actors in blackface, inspired by Al Jolson, and female impersonators dramatized the aspirations, experiences, and frustrations of their audiences. Cole's extensive and lively look into Ghana's concert party provides a unique perspective on the complex experience of British colonial domination, the postcolonial quest for national identity, and the dynamic processes of cultural appropriation and social change. This book will be essential reading for scholars and students of African performance, theatre, and popular culture.
Catherine M. Cole is Associate Professor in the Department of Dramatic Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published numerous articles on African theatre and has collaborated with film maker Kwame Braun on "passing girl; riverside," a video essay on the ethical dilemmas of visual anthropology.
Now the video which goes with it is called "Stage-shakers!" and is available from Indiana University Press and it retails for $39 USD. Minus the photo, here is what I found on there site: (which is
Ghana's Concert Party Theatre
A lively video documentary that brings Ghana's concert party theatre to life.
For the first time, Western audiences have access to the power and intensity of Ghana's remarkable concert party theatre through Kwame Braun's 90-minute documentary video. Stage-Shakers! brings its festive atmosphere to life by showing backstage preparation - touring, making-up, and practicing - as well as live performance footage. Interviews with key performers, both pioneers and current practitioners, reveal the concert party as a dynamic form of entertainment that is in step with popular fashion, music, song, dance, and social issues. Researched and filmed in collaboration with Catherine M. Cole, this video companion is an important extension of her book, Ghana's Concert Party Theatre.
Kwame Braun teaches filmmaking at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has taught at the University of California, Los Angeles; Columbia College, Chicago; and the School of Visual Arts in New York. His work includes Hena Bedi M'ade? (in Twi) and passing girl; riverside - An Essay on Camera Work which was awarded the National Education Media Network's Bronze Apple.