Ghana's Concert Party Theatre:

Catherine M. Cole

$ 19.56 (new)
$ 4.88 (used)

Paperback (256 pages)

Indiana University Press


Editorial Description

". . . succeeds in conveying the exciting and fascinating character of the concert party genre, as well as showing clearly how this material can be used to rethink a number of contemporary theoretical themes and issues." -- Karin Barber 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. Cole shows how concert parties combined an eclectic array of cultural influences, adapting characters and songs from American movies, popular British ballads, and local storytelling traditions into a spirited blend of comedy and social commentary. A companion video, Stageshakers!, by Nathan Kwame Braun, brings the concert party to life for English-speaking audiences.

Reader Reviews

Wait, there's more! A Video!
Stage-Shakers! Ghana's Concert Party Theatre
by Kwame Braun

A lively video documentary that brings Ghana's concert party theatre to life.

Indiana University Press

For the first time, Western audiences have access to the power and intensity of Ghana's remarkable concert party theatre through Kwame Braun's 100-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.

Nothing short of superb
Cole's study of concert party, a traveling musical theater in Ghana, is nothing short of superb. Not only does she manage to show the history of these itinerant performers and the world they made and remade with every performance, but she uses her analysis of concert party as a way to talk about and problematize the theories and obsessions of our time that sometimes have overdetermined analyses of things African. That concert party performers imitated women, or wore blackface, all complicate our own academic ideas about the performance of gender, or of race, and how those might be different in Africa than in the US or Latin America. Cole's manuscript gives us a history of an African musical form in more detail than anything we have had before, and in so doing she gives us a history of class and culture in Ghana that I think will make a strong impact on African history. But it also challenges scholars to think anew about how to understand and interpret African cultural forms, and shows how limiting it is­for Africans and for academics­ to pidgeon-hole those cultural expressions into examples of buzz words and jargon. This is a book that doesn't just interrogate culture and pronounce it complicated. This is a book that looks the complications firmly in the eye and encourages them to stare right back­. Cole animates the complexities and contradictions of popular African culture to make us think more seriously, more carefully, about how race and gender take on meanings and shed connotations in societies increasingly aware of their place in the world.