Contemporary Plays by African Women
eBook - ePub

Contemporary Plays by African Women

Niqabi Ninja; Not That Woman; I Want to Fly; Silent Voices; Unsettled; Mbuzeni; Bonganyi

Sophia Kwachuh Mempuh, JC Niala, Adong Judith, Thembelihle Moyo, Koleka Putuma, Sara Shaarawi, Tosin Jobi-Tume, Yvette Hutchison, Amy Jephta, Yvette Hutchison, Amy Jephta

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eBook - ePub

Contemporary Plays by African Women

Niqabi Ninja; Not That Woman; I Want to Fly; Silent Voices; Unsettled; Mbuzeni; Bonganyi

Sophia Kwachuh Mempuh, JC Niala, Adong Judith, Thembelihle Moyo, Koleka Putuma, Sara Shaarawi, Tosin Jobi-Tume, Yvette Hutchison, Amy Jephta, Yvette Hutchison, Amy Jephta

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This volume uniquely draws together seven contemporary plays by a selection of the finest African women writers and practitioners from across the continent, offering a rich and diverse portrait of identity, politics, culture, gender issues and society in contemporary Africa. Niqabi Ninja by Sara Shaarawi (Egypt) is set in Cairo during the chaotic time of the Egyptian uprising. Not That Woman by Tosin Jobi-Tume (Nigeria) addresses issues of violence against women in Nigeria and its attendant conspiracy of silence. The play advocates zero-tolerance for violence against women and urges women to bury shame and speak out rather than suffer in silence. I Want To Fly by Thembelihle Moyo (Zimbabwe) tells the story of an African girl who wants to be a pilot. It looks at how patriarchal society shapes the thinking of men regarding lobola (bride price), how women endure abusive men and the role society at large plays in these issues. Silent Voices by Adong Judith (Uganda) is a one-act play based on interviews with people involved in the LRA and the effects of the civil war in Uganda. It critiques this, and by implication, other truth commissions. Unsettled by JC Niala (Kenya) deals with gender violence, land issues and relations of both black and white Kenyans living in, and returning to, the country. Mbuzeni by Koleka Putuma (South Africa) is a story of four female orphans, aged eight to twelve, their sisterhood and their fixation with death and burials. It explores the unseen force that governs and dictates the laws that the villagers live by. Bonganyi by Sophia Kwachuh Mempuh (Cameroon) depicts the effects of colonialism as told through the story of a slave girl: a singer and dancer, who wants to win a competition to free her family. Each play also includes a biography of the playwright, the writer's own artistic statement, a production history of the play and a critical contextualisation of the theatrical landscape from which each woman is writing.

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Silent Voices

Adong Judith
Adong Judith is an alumna of Sundance Theater Lab and the Royal Court Theatre International Playwrights Residency currently living in her home country Uganda. Adong is a theater/film director, writer and producer who creates captivating plays and films that provoke and promote dialogue on social issues affecting underprivileged groups. She is a Fulbright Scholar and 2015 graduate of the Temple University MFA Film and Media Arts program, where she also took MFA Theater Directing classes. She won the Margaret McNamara Memory Fund Education Grant USA/Canada 2014 and was voted among the WHO IS WHO in American Universities and Colleges 2015. Play titles to her name include: Silent Voices, Just Me, You and THE SILENCE, Ga-AD, A Time to Celebrate, Holy Maria and Blood, none of which have been previously published. Her work has been presented in different theatres in New York, London, Toronto, Chicago, and Kampala and is or has been studied at Princeton University, Dartmouth College, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she has been invited as a visiting artist. ‘This is an important piece that deserves to be heard and we are pleased to be providing an opportunity for audiences to connect with its message’, commented Kevin Spacey, Academy Award-winning actor and Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theater in London, on Adong’s play Just Me, You and THE SILENCE. Adong has won a Prince Klaus Laureate award for 2018.

Production history

Partly developed at the Sundance Institute Theatre Program – East Africa Lab in 2010, from stories Adong had collected from her hometown of Gulu in 2006, Silent Voices has had three productions in Uganda and readings in Kenya and New York City. Directed by New York-based British director, Dennis Hilton-Reid, the play received an acclaimed world premiere in 2012 at the National Theatre of Uganda amidst fear of Adong’s arrest for her portrayal of the government’s role in northern Uganda war crimes. The play was described in Uganda as ‘the spiritual rebirth of theatre in Uganda since the decline of critical theatre due to political persecution of artists during the Idi Amin Regime’. It brought victims and political, religious, cultural, Amnesty and Transitional Justice leaders together for critical, transformative conversations.
To access local communities, Adong returned to three towns in northern Uganda, Gulu, Kitgum and Lira in 2015 with an Acholi language production, which she directed and ran back-to-back in Kampala at the National Theatre of Uganda with the English production of the play.

Critical introduction

Silent Voices is a story that mirrors the views and emotions of victims of the Northern Ugandan War. It explores how victims have been ignored in the constant calls by Amnesty International, transitional justice projects, governments, NGOs and political leaders, to ‘forgive’ and ‘reconcile’ with perpetrators at the expense of justice. Through the protagonist, Mother, who is a symbolic representation of life and death, Silent Voices examines what ordinary citizens can be driven to by unhealthy policies.
In 2006, as a Teaching Assistant and Masters student of Makerere University’s Department of Performing Arts and Film, I returned to my war-ravaged hometown of Gulu to study the use of theatre in the psychosocial therapy of the children who filled the ranks of Kony’s army, one of the largest child armies in human history. My study was based at World Vision Children of War Rehabilitation Centre and Gulu Support the Children Organisation (GUSCO). I became intrigued by the religious angle of the support provided to the children by the organization. I wondered if the children truly forgave their captors, the LRA commanders, as the sessions seemed to indicate. In my discussions with the children they confessed that if there was no hell, there was no way in hell that they would forgive the commanders. This inspired me to begin interviewing the children, women and men who survived Kony’s reign of terror, delving deep into the communities where some of the children had already been ‘reintegrated’. I listened to the anger and frustration expressed by victims about the Amnesty Act, which they felt ‘rewarded’ perpetrators for confessing to often heinous crimes.
There was a great feeling of betrayal, bitterness and the need for revenge. I knew then that a dissert...

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