Playing for Life is a survey of African performance that uses the focal lens of AIDS performances to examine performance more generally on the African continent. The aim of Playing for Life is threefold. First, the work provides an introduction to the study of Africa through performance suitable for undergraduate students. Second, it supplies a sampling of Africa's rich performative resources. And third, it shows how Africans are working to harness the energy of performance to help solve the most terrible of contemporary problems, the AIDS pandemic.
This book focuses chiefly on the AIDS epidemic/AIDS performances in two African countries, South Africa and Mali. The choice is reflective of a need to provide at least two different case views of African performance and African performative response to the AIDS crisis. The countries, so divergent from one another by most social indicators—economy, religion, geography and climate, colonial history, pre-colonial history, and nature and severity of the AIDS epidemic—offer excellent contrasts from one another, making them ideal selections for this work.
In addition to the maps, charts, and photographs sprinkled throughout the volume, the chapters have been illustrated with audio and video clips featured on the accompanying compact disc (CD). Besides the CD, which comes with the book, it is possible to purchase a 20-minute documentary, AIDS and the Arts in Africa, a visual summary of Playing for Life produced by Louise Bourgault. Royalties from Playing for Life will be donated to support projects for AIDS orphans in South Africa and Mali.
“Louise Bourgault's book is a timely addition to a growing body of literature that highlights Africans' efforts to manage the AIDS crisis on the continent… [Her] style is clear and engaging, and she includes a set of review questions at the end of each chapter to stimulate further discussion… [The CD] is an excellent addition to the text.” — Research in African Literatures, 2005