Dr. David Donkor
Areas of Research:
africana theatre, directing, folklore, globalization, neoliberalism, popular culture
David Afriyie Donkor earned his PhD in Performance Studies and doctoral certificate in African Studies from Northwestern University, where he was a Gwendolyn Carter Doctoral Fellow. He received his MFA in Directing and MS in Multidisciplinary Studies (Ethnic Studies, Speech Communication, Educational Foundations) from Minnesota State University, and a Diploma in Theatre from the University of Ghana.
Dr. Donkor engages theatre/performance as forms of public address in Africana cultures. His ethnographies of Ghanaian stand up comedy, popular theatre, and storytelling explain the interplay of a trickster ethos (based on folk figure Ananse) with performance, political liberalization, and economic (neo) liberalization in Ghana. His study of Ghana’s 1956 independence celebration examines dances, musical performances and diplomatic protocols in light of British colonial valedictory strategies, the U.S.’ Cold War displays of “Soft Power,” and Africa-descended people’s circum-Atlantic expressions of “transnational blackness.” Donkor has examined postcolonial nationalism and theatre architecture in Ghana, has ongoing research work on African migrant’s urban cultural performances in the United States, and plans future work on the culture-economy, dramaturgy, and choreography of urban street vending in West Africa.
Donkor’s publications include the book, Spiders of the Market: Ghanaian Trickster Performance in a Web of Neoliberalism (Indiana University Press); journal articles in Theatre Survey, Theatre and Drama Review (TDR), Cultural Studies, and Ghana Studies; chapters/entries in the volumes Legacy of Efua Sutherland: Pan-African Cultural Activism by Ann Adams and Esi-Sutherland Addy, and Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stage Actors and Acting by Simon Williams; and a book review in the Journal of West African History. He has presented papers and chaired panels at conferences including the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR), Performance Studies International, The Association of Theatre in Higher Education, The American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), The Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, and the African Studies Associations of the U.S.A., Australasia and Pacific. He currently co-convenes IFTR’s African & Afro-Caribbean Theater & Performance Working Group and ASTR’s Performance in/from the Global South Working Group.
Dr. Donkor has adapted and directed folktales, personal narratives and literature for stage in productions like Spiders and Spirits: Tale of Two Tricksters, Two Takes on Hurricane Katrina, Strange and Bitter Fruit (a memorial of the 1906 Springfield Missouri lynching), and his own one-person show, A Travelers Tale, on migration and memory. His directing credits include Efua Sutherland’s Edufa, Margaret Wood’s Day of Atonement, Joe C. de Graft’s Sons and Daughters, and Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa among others. Donkor has worked with Abibigromma, the resident theatre company of the University of Ghana, and Penumbra Theatre Company, Minnesota. He is a recipient of the Entertainment Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana Talent award for his acting in and musical composition for the film Shoeshine Boy. In 2015 he was a visiting artist/scholar at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as part of Conjuring the Caribbean: How Sweet it Is, a five-day symposium/performance/installation that looked at commercialism, tourism and gender identities in the Caribbean through the lens of a sugar-saturated history.
The classes Dr. Donkor has taught at TAMU include: Directing, Intro to Africana Studies, Script Analysis, Popular Music in the African Diaspora, Performance in World Cultures, Topics in Performance and Globalization, and Graduate Scholarship in Performance Studies.