Home » Athol Fugard: Sizwe Bansi is Dead – Discuss the dramatic techniques used in the play

Athol Fugard: Sizwe Bansi is Dead – Discuss the dramatic techniques used in the play

African Drama; Athol Fugard: Sizwe Bansi is Dead.

Discuss the dramatic techniques used in the play.


The Dramatic Technique used in the play is mimicry.

  1. Mimicry is used as a vehicle of comedy. The effect of mimicry is brought out in the narratives of Styles and Buntu. Through the use of mimicry, Styles and Buntu are able to act on the roles of their characters without losing the thread of their narratives and also sustain the attention of the audience.  Another technique is the use of dramatic monologue. Most of what Styles tells the audience in the first half of the play is said in monologue. Every aspect of his narrative is dramatized and gives us an indication of the setting and time.
  2. Flashback is extensively used in the play. Flashback not only provides background information to the action on stage but, also provides insight into the seamy side of apartheid.
  3. Symbolism is also used in the play.

(a) Styles’ photographic studio symbolizes where the dreams of the downtrodden blacks are recreated to give them a sense of self-importance and meaning in life. The camera is a symbol of art. Through it, the neglected dreams, aspirations and history of black South African are captured and maintained.

(b) The newspaper symbol also reinforces those images captured by the camera.

(c) Candidates may also refer to the symbolic presentation of the war on cockroaches as well as the passbook. Both enact the dehumanization of the blacks by the whites.

The epistolary style is another technique used. This is seen in Sizwe’s letter to his wife, Nowetu. It is mnemonic and helps to record as well as recreate the apartheid experience. Comedy is also used to ridicule the racist regime and its assumed sense of white supremacy. There is comedy the mimicry of Styles and Buntu, in the speech of “Bass” Bradley to the black workers at Ford Motors, in the war on cockroaches, in the infectious laughter of Styles and the use of invectives.