The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), in partnership with la Guilde Africaine des Réalisateurs et Producteurs and the Pan African Film & Television Festival (FESPACO), is pleased to announce a two-day workshop on “From STAGE to SCREEN: Interface between African Theatre and Film”, which will be held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, between the 28th of February and 1st March 2015.
FESPACO is a bi-annual event which was launched in 1969 to promote the development of the African film industry by providing an avenue to showcase, celebrate and reflect on achievements in the industry, thereby contributing African voices, images and perspectives to the global film and cinema movement.
The workshop is part of the activities marking the 24th edition of FESPACO, coming up between February 28 and March 7, 2015, under the theme African Cinema Production and Distribution in the Digital Era.
This workshop is part of a global CODESRIA Programme that aims at promoting significant new directions in research and creative excellence in an important but often neglected discipline, the African Humanities, especially in their interconnections with the social sciences in critical issues of fundamental importance to cultural promotion and dissemination. Within the framework of this programme, CODESRIA has, since 2007, developed a tradition of organizing during FESPACO, forums for reflections on film-making and cinema in Africa. For CODESRIA in particular, the 2015 workshop is of special significance, as a prelude to the Council’s 14th General Assembly on the theme “Creating African Futures in an Era of Global Transformations: Challenges and Prospects”, scheduled for June 8-11, 2015 in Dakar, Senegal.
The 2015 workshop on From STAGE to SCREEN: Interface between African Theatre and Film flows quite organically from the 2013 workshop which focused on the theme Pan-Africanism: Adapting African Stories/Histories from Text to Screen. The two themes explore closely related dimensions of the many ways in which film as a new art form can and has been seen as a technical and aesthetic extension of the older art form literature, literature itself, especially as a written art form, as an extension of the even older art of story-telling in the oral tradition.
We can think of the case of the Ghanaian Concert Party, an itinerant popular theatre tradition once best known for nation-wide tours from urban centres to rural areas, but now better known in its transformation into productions performed to live audiences at the National Theatre in Accra, which are then filmed for nation-wide broadcast by Ghana Television. Similar examples can be found in various countries across Africa, such as the Nigerian Travelling Theatre.
The 2015 workshop also takes us back to the 3rd workshop on the theme African Film, Video & the Social Impact of New Technologies, held in February 2011 to discuss and analyze the economic, aesthetic and social impacts of the video-movie-phenomenon in Africa. Participants looked at the relationship between the new technologies and contemporary African literature and film in order to determine what the video-makers could learn from their predecessors in literature and film, and vice versa. For example, could the narrative structure of the video-movies be aesthetically and thematically improved through some help from African writers and “auteurist” filmmakers? Conversely, could Francophone directors learn anything from the star-systems of Nollywood and Gallywood? Finally, participants also looked at African audiences’ reception of the video-movies as constitutive of new democratic sites, new subjective formations, and social and economic desires that have so far been unavailable in film and literature.
The theme for this year’s workshop offers us yet another opportunity to reflect on a number of key issues in the development of African cinema as a new kind of theatre:
- The examples of major African film makers who began their careers as fiction writers or dramatists—Sembene Ousmane, Kwaw Ansah, and others;
- Technical and narrative challenges, opportunities and possibilities for adaptations from text to stage to screen;
- The video film as a new/contemporary form of traditional story telling;
- The communicative power of screen narratives—beyond literacy, beyond linguistic barriers;
- Theatre schools and the training of a new generation of African film directors/ artists/ technicians;
- The digital revolution and opportunities for a new era in African film art;
- Docu_Drama: Its unique challenges and possibilities;
- Film/Video and the Creative Economy in Africa;