Reflections on a black Paulina: a personal tale recounted from a retrospective perspective

  • Noxolo Matete


If the process of colonisation located the black woman as the epitome of marginalisation, then a postcolonial feminist interrogation of Shakespeare calls for the significant inclusion and voice of this historically relegated identity. This paper employs the methodological approach of Narrative Inquiry, in that it focuses primarily on theorising a past subjective experience of a moment in performance. This paper is an auto-ethnographic, retrospective study around my personal experience of playing Paulina in a 2007 University of KwaZulu-Natal production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, as a black South African female in a post-apartheid context. From a postcolonial feminist perspective, this paper seeks to give voice to my personal experience of representing a colonial European woman on a post-apartheid stage. Engaging the intersectionality politics of race, gender and language (examining in particular the politics of South African accents in Shakespearean performance), this paper reflects on the meanings that were unearthed when this character was re-imagined through my black identity. As the most historically marginalised South African identity, articulating my subjective experience of acting in a Shakespearean production within a postcolonial, post apartheid context – wherein I was embodying a European woman – becomes a profoundly important political performative statement, against the backdrop of a re-imagined, decolonised Shakespeare in post-liberation South Africa.


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eISSN: 1011-582X