Between the Rainbow Nation and the Melting Pot: Troubling Reconciliation with The Fall


Jared Strange


The Fall is a devised play inspired by #RhodesMustFall, a student-led movement that felled the statue of Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town and challenged structural racism and inequality across South Africa. Like many recent productions of South African plays, its 2018 residency at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. was positioned with an eye to how it would resonate with American audiences attuned to similar national conflicts. In this article, I examine the ways in which The Fall can further the theatrical exchange between our two nations while challenging established discourses based on cultural misapprehensions and a narrow view of racial “reconciliation” that occludes structural systems of oppression. By centering the lived experiences of students of color, explicitly naming the intersections that undergirded the #RhodesMustFall movement, and resisting the post-racial myth of the “Rainbow Nation,” The Fall presents a vital counterpoint to canonical South African plays favored by the American theatrical establishment, many of which are rooted in Apartheid as a historical period and in racial reconciliation as an interpersonal endeavor. In short, the play demonstrate that the end of Apartheid, like the end of Segregation, was not the end of institutional racism and white supremacy so many imagine it to have been.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.