Reconfiguring the absurd? A reading of Robert Serumaga’s A Play, Majangwa and The Elephants
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This thesis is an exploration of Robert Serumaga’s reconfiguration of elements of theatre of the absurd into what I call the absurdist idiom in his plays. Through a close reading of his plays A Play (1967), The Elephants (1971) and Majangwa (1974), I argue that while Serumaga’s overall mode of dramaturgical representation is cast in an absurdist idiom, this style is being adapted and consciously reinvented by the playwright for his own purposes, not least in response to his contemporary situation. Further, I argue that Serumaga’s concerns are in intimate conversation with conflict situations of the late 60s and early 70s in Uganda; a period during which human existence seemed to have been rendered meaningless by the successive political regimes of the time. The study also looks at the possible influence of Beckett on Serumaga through because a basic connection involving Serumaga, Beckett and the Absurd has been familiar to critics such as Eckhard Breitinger, Andrew Horn and Rose Mbowa. Finally, while I grant that there are elements in A Play, Majangwa and The Elephants that gesture towards the Esslinian notion of the absurd, I argue that Serumaga in his plays goes beyond and does more than the absurd. My overall conclusion is that rather adopt a theatre of the absurd per se, Serumaga reconfigures elements of the absurd into an absurdist idiom which he uses to present his concerns in a unique way.