It is with enormous regret and deep sadness that we anounce the passing of Professor Esiaba Irobi, Fellow of the Institute for Interweaving Performance Cultures. Esiaba was a wonderful colleague who contributed so much positive energy and intellectual acuity to our research community in the short time that he was with us. In his lectures and his interventions he was an inspiration, speaking with a passion and with deep personal and political commitment. Throughout his time as a Fellow he was forever expressing his gratitude for the opportunity of being a Fellow, but it is to him and his memory that we express our gratitude for the many contributions he made to the intellectual life and community of the Institute. The courage, belief and hope with which he faced life’s most difficult challenges are surely an inspiration to us all.
Esiaba Irobi was born in the Republic of Biafra and lived in exile in Nigeria, the UK and the USA. He held a BA in English/Drama and an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; an MA in Film and Theatre from the University of Sheffield, UK, and a PhD in Theatre Studies from the University of Leeds, UK. He taught at Liverpool John Moores University in England and the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and was Associate Professor of International Theatre and Film Studies at Ohio University, Athens, USA. His forthcoming scholarly books include: A THEATRE FOR CANNIBALS: Images of Europe in African Performance of the Pre-Modern, Modern, and Post-Modern Periods; BEFORE THEY DANCED IN CHAINS: Performance Theories of Africa and the African Diaspora.
His project brought to the attention of both Western and Non-Western scholars and students the crucial differences between the performance historiographies, economic infrastructures, creative opportunities and aesthetic approaches of the most visible Western theatre practitioners in comparison with their less well-known contemporaries from Africa and the African diaspora.
So, even though he was using the operative framework of ‘interweaving’, i.e. appropriations, borrowings, adaptations and graftings, to build a lexicon of mutual understanding between readers from the European and the African diasporas, his super-objective was to highlight the complexity and uniqueness of the ‘interweaving’ contributions that practitioners, communities and societies from his own part of the world, namely the African continent and its diasporas, have made to contemporary, global theatre practice and theoretical discourse.