Song as a Register for Black Feminist Theatre-Making Aesthetic




Black Feminist Theatre Aesthetic, Black Aesthetics, Songs and Silence, Song and Struggle


This article looks at the play, Dipina tsa Monyanyako, which was made with a group of domestic workers in South Africa. The article explores how song is used as a strategy to locate ways of creating and making in South Africa. Song therefore registers a historical way of imagining and how marginalised groups; women have written themselves into history.

The production is a creative conversation where song is used to express care and anger in everyday life. Current approaches to knowledge production are inadequate in capturing song, poetics, and interpreting the forms of performances black women engage. The article makes a case for song as a form of black feminist theatre-making aesthetic. Using Dipina tsa Monyanyako, I argue that songs, silence, sighs have important methodological implications for arts-based processes and research.

In post-apartheid South Africa, performances are characterized by constant aesthetic reinvention. From precolonial expressions of life to protest theatre, performance aesthetics have been a way of revealing everyday life and struggles. For black women, theatre becomes the meeting place of the expression of their lives and a space of reflection and analysis of those lives, even though, historically, the presence of black women in theatre has been minimal. The creation of Dipina tsa Monyanyako allowed for the emergence of women as empowered subjects, and song became a portal for collective transformation.

Author Biography

Refiloe Lepere, Department of Performing Arts, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

Refiloe Lepere is a black feminist playwright, theatre director, drama therapist, journalist and facilitator. Her work using therapeutic theatre weaves history, statistics and personal narratives to address issues of social (in)justice, trauma, intersectional identities of black women and the performance of labour. Her research looks at how race performs and thereby frames and shapes our understanding and interpretation of the world. She is a graduate of New York University and University of Witwatersrand, a Think Fellow and Ford Foundation Fellow. She currently lectures at Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa. Her work creates interconnections between race and feminist theory, social justice and theatre-making practices. She travels around the world hosting masterclasses on story as a social justice tool, and she has organized several major festivals and symposiums on Arts-in-Health in South Africa.

Photo of author Refiloe Lepere



How to Cite

Lepere, R. (2021). Song as a Register for Black Feminist Theatre-Making Aesthetic. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 21(1).