Letterkunde

Op hierdie bladsye word enkele artikels wat die bydraes van akademici in die konteks van Afrikaanse dramawerk in Suid-Afrika illustreer, uit die geakkreditterde joernaal Litnet Akademies opgeneem. Hierdie bydraes verskyn oorspronklik op Litnet Akademies en word sporadies in Afrikaans in Europa ingetrek. Die volledige artikel sowel as die opsomming van die inhoud in Engels is te lees indien u die skakels volg.

If you follow the links you can read the English abstract as well as the complete article.

Inhoud:

  1. J.R.L. van Bruggen (Kleinjan) se eenbedryf “Bloedrivier” uit Bakens: Gedramatiseerde mylpale uit die Groot Trek (1938/1939) – ’n terugblik vanuit 2013 - Marisa Keuris (2013-12-18)

  2. “Wie sal ons onthou?”: Die gehoorlid se ongemaklike posisie in Deon Opperman se “Tree aan!”
    Lida Krüger (2013-10-29)

 


1. J.R.L. van Bruggen (Kleinjan) se eenbedryf “Bloedrivier” uit Bakens: Gedramatiseerde mylpale uit die Groot Trek (1938/1939) – ’n terugblik vanuit 2013 - Marisa Keuris (2013-12-18)

Opsomming

In hierdie artikel fokus ek op een drama, “Bloedrivier” (uit die bundel eenbedrywe Bakens) deur J.R.L. van Bruggen (Kleinjan) in ’n poging om die 175ste herdenking van die Groot Trek en die Slag van Bloedrivier ook in verband te bring met die dramatiese werk wat daarmee verbind kan word. Van Bruggen het sy bundel eenbedrywe geskryf met die uitdruklike doelwit om in 1938, tydens die eeufeesviering van die geveg, hierdie historiese gebeure ook op dramatiese wyse te herdenk. Hy het met hierdie eenbedrywe probeer om met die gebruik van die sogenaamde dokumentêre dramavorm die illusie te skep van die skynbaar feitelik-historiese weergawe van hierdie gebeure. Sy keuse om in die eenbedryf “Bloedrivier” sterker op sekere bronne (Jan Bantjes) as ander (Sarel Cilliers) te steun kan as veelseggend beskou word. Ter inleiding van my fokus op hierdie spesifieke drama verwys ek kortliks na die voorkoms en rol van dramatiese werk/voorstellings by die Groot Trek-herdenkingsfees en ander feeste (o.a. die grootskaalse gebruik van historiese tablo’s by hierdie feeste). Die teoretiese raamwerk waarbinne my bespreking van die eenbedryf “Bloedrivier” vervolgens geplaas is, sluit aan by sekere aspekte wat die sogenaamde Nuwe Historisme kenmerk. Aangesien hierdie benadering dikwels ’n redelik omvattende en gedetailleerde studie van die sogenaamde sosiale energieë (soos uiteengesit deur Stephen Greenblatt 1988) van ’n tydvak inhou, wat moeilik in die bestek van ’n artikel volledig gedoen kan word, is daar besluit om hier slegs op sekere kernaspekte van die benadering te fokus. Wat in hierdie artikel dus wel aan bod kom, is hoofsaaklik ’n poging om te wys hoe literêre en ander tekste (in hierdie geval historiese bronne/dokumente) op mekaar inspeel; dat die literatuur as kulturele praktyk naas ander praktyke staan (historiese, politiese, sosiale e.a. praktyke); die rol van magsverhoudings binne die betrokke historiese periode, en veral dat alle “waarhede” gewoon histories vasgelê is. Die polemiese sake rondom die Slag van Bloedrivier – veral die Gelofte self – word betrek binne die bespreking van Kleinjan van Bruggen se drama. As gerekende akademikus en opvoeder van sy tyd sou hy wel deeglik kennis geneem het van die verskillende standpunte oor die Slag van Bloedrivier en die Gelofte in sy eie tyd. Ek probeer uitwys in watter mate hierdie drama kan bydra tot die debat oor ’n historiese aangeleentheid en hoe dit as ’n kultuurproduk van 1939 doelbewus aangesluit het by die strewe om Afrikanernasionalisme te vestig en te bevorder deur middel van ook die kultuur en bepaalde kulturele aktiwiteite soos die drama. In sy doelwit om ’n sogenaamd histories korrekte weergawe van die gebeure te gee, poog Van Bruggen terselfdertyd om die ideologie van Afrikanernasionalisme te bevorder.

Junie 2014

 

2. “Wie sal ons onthou?”: Die gehoorlid se ongemaklike posisie in Deon Opperman se “Tree aan!” - Lida Krüger (2013-10-29)

Lida Krüger, Departement Afrikaans en Algemene Literatuurwetenskap, Universiteit van Suid-Afrika

Opsomming

Deon Opperman het sy musiekblyspel “Tree aan!: Dit was die dae toe ons troepies was” (2011) geskryf as lewende monument om die soldate wat in die Grensoorlog gesneuwel het, te huldig. Dit dien ook om te keer dat die geskiedenis van hierdie oorlog uitgewis word, ’n uitwissing waarna daar, volgens Opperman, daadwerklik gestreef word. Opperman benader hierdie taak op ’n restouratief-nostalgiese wyse, ten spyte van die kontroversie rondom die Grensoorlog en die verdeeldheid daaroor in die openbare domein. In hierdie artikel dui ek drie dinge aan: (i) dat Opperman op restouratief-nostalgiese en verwronge wyse met die geskiedenis omgaan; (ii) dat “Tree aan!”’n omkering is van sy debuutdrama, Môre is ’n lang dag (1986), ten opsigte van die verteenwoordiging van Afrikanernasionalisme; en (iii) dat “Tree aan!”die gehoorlid in ’n ongemaklike posisie plaas ten opsigte van die huldiging van hierdie geskiedenis. Ek doen dit deur eerstens die kriteria vir die doel, funksie en hantering van feite in historiese fiksie te bepaal aan die hand van onder andere Van Coller (2011) se studie in hierdie verband. Tweedens beskryf ek die eienskappe van propaganda en die aard van teater as stelsel van veranderlikes, en derdens ontleed ek beide Môre is ’n lang dag en “Tree aan!”volgens bogenoemde kriteria. Ek kom dan tot die gevolgtrekking dat “Tree aan!” sekere feite wat in die historiografie aanvaar word, misken of versluier. Daar vind verder ’n hiërargiese verskuiwing binne Opperman se eie oeuvre plaas wat duidelik word wanneer “Tree aan!”met Môre is ’n lang dag vergelyk word. Laastens dwing “Tree aan!”die gehoor in ’n beperkende keuse in wat in die huidige diskursiewe klimaat, waar kwessies rondom die Grensoorlog steeds onopgelos en kompleks blyk te wees, onaanvaarbaar is.


Abstract
Who will remember us?: The audience member’s uncomfortable position in Deon Opperman’s “Tree aan!”

Deon Opperman wrote his musical “Tree aan!: Dit was die dae toe ons troepies was” (2011; Fall in!: Those were the days when we were troops) as a living monument to pay homage to the fallen soldiers of the Border War who were not recognised in Freedom Park. The musical is, therefore, a political event from the start, written and performed within a larger political context. Like Opperman’s earlier historical musical about the Anglo-Boer War, “Ons vir jou” (2008), “Tree aan!” led to a polemic in the Afrikaans press. While columnists like Flip Buys and Leopold Scholtz felt that “Tree aan!” was important in commemorating the former SADF soldiers for their contribution to the South African democracy today, philosopher Anton van Niekerk saw these allegations as preposterous since the Border War remains controversial and issues surrounding it unresolved. Indeed, conflicting works of fiction and non-fiction about the Border War are still being published today, and in Opperman’s own oeuvre the Border War is always relevant, especially in his debut drama, Môre is ’n lang dag (1986; Tomorrow is a long day). However, the polemic surrounding “Tree aan!” calls its political implications into question.

As historical fiction, “Tree aan!” fulfils specific functions and purposes that are influenced by its genre as a musical drama: it is inextricably part of a specific context with political implications. In this article I intend to point three things out: (i) that “Tree aan!” interprets historical events in a restoratively nostalgic and distorted manner; (ii) that “Tree aan!” is an inversion of Opperman’s earlier Môre is ’n lang dag with regard to the representation of Afrikaner nationalism, and (iii) that the musical places the audience member in an uncomfortable position regarding the commemoration of this history. I will, therefore, first give an explanation of the purpose, functions and treatment of facts within historical fiction according to Van Coller’s (2011) typology. I will then describe the characteristics of propaganda and the nature of theatre as a system of variables. Lastly, I will analyse both Môre is ’n lang dag and “Tree aan!” to show how these two texts represent almost opposite positions regarding war and the role of gender in war.

“Tree aan!” attempts, as a historical drama, to process the traumatic past of the Border War, make sense of its repercussions and confirm Afrikaner identity. The historical events of the war are therefore interpreted along with other events and perspectives of the text’s own time. In a time when the Afrikaner feels increasingly marginalised and demonised, Opperman creates a platform with “Tree aan!” where the Afrikaner can express him- or herself, as was the case with his earlier “Ons vir jou”. In the theatre programme, Opperman (2011b:9) states that “Tree aan!” depicts his people’s history and asks how Afrikaners should know who they are today, and dream their own future, if they do not have the right to remember their past. “Tree aan!” thus forms part of the Afrikaner’s search for identity in a post-apartheid era.

Furthermore, the musical aims to provide a catharsis for those who served in the Border War, but were never debriefed. Opperman (2011b:9) sees the refusal of the current government to honour these former servicemen in Freedom Park as an attempt to suppress their experiences and memories.

The nostalgia that thus characterises this historical drama is already clear in the subtitle, which may be translated as “Those were the days when we were troops”. This nostalgia is, however, not suspicious or socially unacceptable in its own account. Boym (2001:xvi) points out that “outbreaks of nostalgia” can be expected after revolutions or radical social change. While Van Coller (2011:682) contrasts nostalgic and parodic historical fiction, both Boym (2001) and Taljaard-Gilson (2013:387) demonstrate that nostalgia is not necessarily uncritical or reactionary. The nostalgia in “Tree aan!” does, however, become problematic in the restorative way in which it engages with historical material.

Restorative nostalgia is often used in nationalism, as was the case with Afrikaner nationalism. This type of nostalgia presents a specific version of history as absolute truth, and this version is often “purified” in order to present the desired image of a nation. In historical fiction this is often accomplished through negation, where facts that are generally accepted in historiography are rejected, as Van Coller (2011:691–2) points out. Because “Tree aan!” negates certain details about the Border War, such as the controversy around the war, and the fact that its necessity has still not been determined, this makes it an example of negation, in contrast with Môre is ’n lang dag,which represents facts using substitution.

A very specific (and skewed) version of historical events is thus presented as definitive in “Tree aan!”. This is emphasised by the mimetic way in which the plot unfolds, which gives it a documentary feel. While the diegetic nature of Môre is ’n lang dag blurs the lines between truth and perception, victim and perpetrator, and investigates collective guilt, “Tree aan!” mimetically presents the audience with a simple sequence of events. Môre is ’n lang dag questions the system of apartheid and foregrounds the troops’ subjective experiences on the border, while in “Tree aan!” trustworthy authority figures fulfil a god-like role by clearing up any ambiguity and taking charge when things go wrong. There is, therefore, an interesting hierarchical shift (permutation) within Opperman’s own oeuvre, and the idea that the sequence of events as presented in “Tree aan!” is definitive is supported by the director’s note in the programme.

The promotion of such a specific point of view or interpretation is often found in propaganda. Although the information in propaganda texts is usually historically verifiable, its interpretation is biased, as is the case in “Tree aan!” Firstly, Opperman’s text obscures certain perspectives on the Border War, as mentioned earlier, by means of a binary construct: the war is portrayed as the only alternative to communism. Secondly, it uses emotional appeals, and addresses the audience directly, to coerce the audience – in a highly theatrical manner – into a uniform interaction.

Because drama can never be separated from the context in which it is performed, this audience interaction becomes part of the drama. On the night that I attended the performance (8 July 2011) the audience applauded certain political icons – such as the former national flag of South Africa – which changed the political disposition of the drama, whether or not that icon was used in a contextual way by the dramatist. The context of “Tree aan!” furthermore includes the accessible genre with its closed and uncomplicated plot, which strengthened the uniform reaction of, and interaction with, the audience. The newspaper columns of both Buys (2011) and Scholtz (2011), as well as Deon Opperman’s director’s note and Gert Opperman’s note in the programme, contribute to the promotion of Afrikaner nationalism, and the audience is encouraged also to support this ideology through metadramatic techniques. From the audience’s general response at the performance as well as on social media it is clear that most spectators support Opperman’s version of the Border War.

The individual audience member is thus put in a very prescriptive and potentially uncomfortable position. According to Carlson (1989:85–6) active resistance in theatre can be difficult: an audience member cannot simply put the text down – he or she has to leave the performance space. Through the mimetic nature of this drama as well as the larger context, the individual audience member is pressured to support the ideology promoted in this drama. In the current discursive climate, where issues surrounding the Border War are still unresolved and appear to be highly complex, this is unacceptable.

Kliek op die titel hierbo om die volledige artikel in Afrikaans te lees.

LitNet Akademies Jaargang 10(3)
ISSN 1995-5928

Gepubliseer: Augustus 2014


© Catharina Loader 2001