These Things of Darkness: A Postcolonial Experiment in Zen Zen Zo's The Tempest (2009)
Shakespeare's The Tempest has long remained a site for exploring the relationship between the (usually British) colonizer and the indigenous people of the colonized land. In this article, I examine Australian physical theatre company Zen Zen Zo's offering of the classical text, questioning its postcolonial claims. The performance makes its postcolonial attempt by illuminating the struggle between the oppressor and the oppressed, aiming to bring the marginalized characters of Caliban and Ariel to the centre and challenge the hegemony. This attempt is made especially through the use of the company's take on Japanese Butoh and Mikhail Bakhtin's carnival theories as methods of inversion, and perhaps the performance's most notable contribution to the performance history of The Tempest is through the creation of a Butoh Caliban. Through my analysis of the performance's use of music and visual metaphors, however, I argue that the performance's postcolonial claim is problematic; while there has indeed been an effort to offer a postcolonial perspective on The Tempest, the performance risks crossing over into neocolonial territory, thus failing to fulfil its political objective.
Contemporary Theatre Review
Performing Arts and Creative Writing not elsewhere classified