Lecture: Speaking Truth to Power: South African Theatre and Social Change

The International Symposium is Feb. 27 – March 1, 2023

As part of the annual symposium, Dr. Megan Lewis will give her lecture on March 1 at 10 a.m. in the Lory Student Center, Room 3-8-10.

Speaking Truth to Power: South African Theatre and Social Change: How do the performing arts participate in social transformation? Dr. Megan Lewis has spent her career researching South African theatre, film, and performance, and the roles the arts play in culture, especially during times of significant upheaval and change. As Brecht once said, art can hold up a mirror to culture and also be a hammer with which to shape it. In this engaging session, Lewis will chronicle how theatre helped move South Africa out of its racist apartheid past and into a new democracy. She will showcase some of the most provocative, creative, and brilliant theatremakers and shakers as they speak truth to power, use satire as a social corrective, build community across difference, dance up new possibilities, and challenge systems of power for a better future. This presentation will include video, visuals, and highlights from her body of scholarship. Artists include Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, Magnet Theatre, Peter van Heerden, Ewok Robinson, Mamela Nyamza, Mwenya Kabwe, Die Antwoord, and Gaven Hood, among others.

Megan Lewis, Associate Professor and Director of Theatre, Colorado State University

Megan Lewis is a South African American theatre historian and performance scholar. She is the author of Performing Whitely in the Postcolony (2016, University of Iowa Press) and Magnet Theatre: Three Decades of Making Space (2016, Intellect Books and UNISA Press), which won the Hiddingh-Currie National Book Award in 2018. She is currently working on her third book project: a study of safari as performance. Lewis has published on African political theatre, film, and performance in Theatre Journal, Performing Arts Journal, Theatre History Studies, Text & Performance, Theatre Topics, and The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism.

Lewis is a multidisciplinary educator with a passion for inspiring intellectual curiosity and advocating for the performing arts as a powerful force for social activation and change. Her teaching passions include African theatre and film, the politics of performance, non-Western performance traditions, theatre of dissent, the performance of gender (masculinity) and race (whiteness) in South Africa, and white allyship. Prior to joining the faculty at Colorado State University, she taught at the University of Minnesota and UMass Amherst.

Lewis’ accolades include a 2015 Distinguished Teacher Award from UMass Amherst; a national book award; an intensive summer study abroad program – Arts & Culture in South Africa – focused around the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown/Makhanda; and two global teaching voyages for Semester at Sea. She served as graduate program director and Multicultural Theater Certificate director before taking on the exciting new leadership challenge as director of Theatre at CSU.


Date: March 1, 2023
Time: 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

Organizer: Jennifer Clary
Phone: (970) 491-3603

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