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‘Travellers of the Street’: Flãnerie in Beyene Haile's Heart-to-Heart Talk

  • Christine Matzke

In January 2008 the Eritrean capital of Asmara witnessed a theatre production that did not sit easily with the cultural imaginary of the country. Performed by a group of university graduates rather than the well-versed artists in government employ, Beyene Haile's Weg'i Libi, or Heart-to-Heart Talk, caused a stir among the local art-loving community in that it defied common strands of Eritrean theatre arts. Difficult to understand, with no clear plot or clear-cut message, it nonetheless drew crowds during the two weeks of its performance, largely because, as Christine Matzke suggests in this article, it allowed audiences to participate in the intellectual flânerie presented on stage. Basing her article on material collected in autumn 2008 and spring 2010, the author here provides an interpretation of the play and an outline and contextualization of its production process. Christine Matzke has spent well over a decade researching Eritrean theatre arts and cultural production. Her publications include the co-edited African Theatre 8: Diasporas (2009) and Postcolonial Postmortems (2006) on transcultural crime fiction. She teaches at the University of Bayreuth.

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New Theatre Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0266-464X
  • EISSN: 1474-0613
  • URL: /core/journals/new-theatre-quarterly
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