Stageshakers! (2001) is a history and ethnographic introduction to the Concert Party itinerant theatre of the Gold Coast and Ghana.  From its social club origins among the Anglophile elite of the early 20th century, the Concert Party evolved over the course of fifty years into one of the newly independent Ghana's most beloved art forms, an exuberant and resourceful combination of vaudeville-like farce, social inquiry, and the latest popular music.

The video is  designed for classroom use and breaks into three sections:

With interviews with surviving veterans and rare archival photographs, In Gold Coast Times outlines the development of the form since the 1920s: its shift, with touring, into African languages; its marriage with highlife music; and its growth from trios into troupes.

An Old Time Show features a re-creation of a classic show by the veteran troupe, the Jaguar Jokers.  We follow along as the show is promoted and the stage built, with side trips to look at the traditions of  informal apprenticeship and female impersonation. The section concludes with an extended sampling of the JJ's antic show, "Onipa Hia Moa" (People Need Help).

Concert Tonight!  follows two different troupes on tour, one the company of a successful pop star that caters to the popular taste for stories of the supernatural, while the other less successfully practices a sort of social drama.  The economic and logistical challenges of the business are covered, as well as opportunity to go backstage.

Stageshakers! is a companion work to
Ghana’s Concert Party Theater, by theater scholar Catherine M. Cole (Indiana University Press, 2001) and can be seen in 9 chapters on YouTube, with supplementary videos, Use Your Gumption! and Wake for a Lady Impersonator.

    ︎Previous      Next︎