The aim of this investigation is to examine and discuss the growth and development of the Sepedi drama. With the aim in mind, both written (stage) dramas and radio dramas that were broadcast and appeared in book form at a later stage were taken into account. Traditional rituals that are regarded as dramas by some researchers also received attention. A comparison of these various works shows (a) how the way of life and cultural views of the Bapedi have changed due to adaptation to changing circumstances, (b) how the authorship of the authors has developed and (c) which tendencies are present in drama. In a study such as the one undertaken here, it is essential that the concept ‘drama’ be defined very clearly, mainly because the so-called traditional production differs vastly from conventional works such as the stage drama and the radio drama. The works of Finnegan (1970) and Dhlomo (1939) played a very important role in the discussion of the traditional drama. Differences and similarities between stage, radio and traditional drama were recorded in detail. The period from 1935 (the year in which the first written literary work appeared in Sepedi) to 1994 is covered with regard to written works. Problems in connection with the publication of literary works compelled the researcher to use 1994 as the cut-off date in his research. Such problems are only briefly mentioned. The growth and development of the Sepedi drama is presented mainly in the form of an evaluative historical report. At the same time, it is also pointed out how the writing skills of the dramatists improve, particularly after the sixties when radio dramas were first broadcast in Sepedi. In order to point out the different tendencies in Sepedi drama, other literatures were examined for criteria that can be used for such groupings. The Serudu (1983) and Groenewald (1983) classifications that cover phases or periods in literature as a whole and not just drama were also examined. Whereas the English discuss the growth of drama in terms of historical, social and political happenings or circumstances, Serudu (1983) and Groenewald (1983) divided their discussion of the phases of development into periods of ten years. In order to discuss the development of Sepedi drama in terms of tendencies or phases, this study has concentrated on two issues, namely the content and the arrangement of the facts by the author. Authors started writing more and more about apartheid and the decay of traditional manners and customs. The latter clearly represents the drastic changes that took place on a socio-cultural level. With regard to the second task, namely the processing of material to form a drama, there are two distinct groupings in connection with written works: (a) stage drama and (b) radio drama. Although the writing skills in the creation of stage drama did improve in the course of time, the stage drama was never of the same standard as the radio drama. The reason for this is obvious; stage drama has hardly ever been performed and there is no feedback from the spectator body (like critics). These works were furthermore kept alive artificially by the school syllabus. This has the result that these two drama groupings constitute the important development phases of the Sepedi drama. One may not, however, lose sight of the fact that the traditional drama not only still exists and is still being ‘performed’ but that it has been renewed and has adapted to modern circumstances. Three groupings that reflect the development and growth of Sepedi drama can thus be distinguished at present.
Thesis (DLitt (General Literary Theory))--University of Pretoria, 2007.