Ubú y la Comisión de la verdad: Teatro, metáfora y memoria en Sudáfrica



(Ubu and the Truth Commission:

Theater, Metaphor, and Memory in South Africa)

Rosenthal, Eryn (2000). “Ubú y la Comisión de la Verdad: Teatro, metáfora, y memoria en Sudáfrica.” OPHELIA, revista de teatro y otras artes, Madrid.

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© Eryn Rosenthal, 2000. Please cite with link to this page.


Special thanks:

I am grateful to my colleagues at OPHELIA, especially to editor Domingo Ortega. I am also grateful to the many South Africans who spoke with me in the initial phases of my research, as well as the Open Society Institute of NY and the Henry Hart Rice Foreign Residence Fellowship of Yale University for supporting my 1998-99 research in South Africa, and the Fulbright Commission of Spain for supporting my related research, Performance on the Post-Franco Stage. I would also like to thank my advisors from Yale, Margaret Spillane and Bruce Shapiro, as well as Dr. Dori Laub, co-founder of the Fortunoff Video Archive of Holocaust Testimony and the director of my related thesis in Comparative Literature on the testimony of Holocaust survivors and how artists engage with it in their work.




Ubu and the Truth Commission (1997) is a South African performance collaboration between the artist/director William Kentridge, the Handspring Puppet Company, and the writer Jane Taylor.

As a Fulbright scholar in Madrid (where I had arrived directly from a year of research in South Africa), I became involved with blenamiboá*, a research-based theater group known for their poetically charged, interdisciplinary productions. Blenamiboá had been making an impact on the Madrid arts scene with a new journal, OPHELIA: revista de teatro y otras artes (OPHELIA: Journal of Theater and other arts). I wrote Ubu and the Truth Commission: Theater, Metaphor, and Memory in South Africa for the issue of OPHELIA dedicated to Mneumosine, the muse of memory.

In South Africa, my research investigated the relationship between metaphor, identity and freedom in post-Apartheid and post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) South Africa.  As part of my research, I was fortunate to interview many of the artistic collaborators involved in the creation of Ubu: Kentridge, Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler (the directors of Handspring), Busi Zokufa (Ma Ubu), and Dawid Minaar (Pa Ubu), as well as many South Africans who were involved in different aspects of South Africa’s TRC (including witnesses, commissioners, family members, researchers, translators, attorneys, psychologists, journalists, scholars, audience members, legislators, artists and many others).


*Blenamiboá is “A-bo-mi-na-ble” spelled backwards by syllable, and is exclaimed by White Horses Three and Four in the opening scene of Federico García Lorca’s landmark play, El público (The Audience/The Public).

Lorca, Federico García (1930).  El público, ed. María Clementa Millán (1987). Madrid: Cátedra.

© Eryn Rosenthal, 2000, 2016. Please cite with link to this page.