SHAKESPEARE AND BRECHT IN NIGERIA
RECEPTION AND INFLUENCE
Felicia N. Ibemesi
University of Nigeria
The purpose of this research was to examine and evaluate the reception and influence of Shakespeare and Brecht in Nigeria , so as to find out reasons for their permanent presence in Nigeria .
Decades of School curricula in Nigeria run with implicit and explicit thematisation of Shakespeare and Brecht. One could almost place Shakespeare at the top of the list in the literature canon of Nigeria/West African School Certificate.
Motifs, themes and structures of Shakespeare’s and Brecht’s works endear them to the Nigerian audience. Although Nigerians adapt Brecht’s works especially his Threepenny opera and The Caucasian Chalk Circle among others, they do so not necessarily because of the Marxian interpretation of history by Brecht. Although the existence of different social classes are recognized in Nigeria, the artists who adapt Brecht often focus attention on the themes of hunger and suffering of the masses, while less attention is paid to class struggle which Brecht and other Marxists emphasized.
In the case of Shakespeare, Nigerians simply adopt him in their literature canon without asking question on his relevance to the targeted audience. This work therefore tries to investigate the relevance of Shakespeare and his 16th/17th century language to the 20th/21st century Nigerian audience.
In conclusion, this work showed that Marxist interpretation by many critics of Brecht narrows the scope of appreciation of his works as creative art. Nigerians use Brecht examples to address social ills in Nigeria similar to those which Brecht addressed while calling for class struggles and a change in his own society. The study called for review of Shakespeare in Nigerian/West African school curricula. People in English language and literary studies in the university where this thesis was defended in an oral examination were already provoked. We therefore believe that one of the primary aims of this study which is to create awareness of the need for regular survey of Shakespeare, Brecht and other adopted foreign artists in Nigeria was achieved.
ISBN 9783895865053. LINCOM Studies in Language and Literature 06.126pp. 2007.