EU marks ’16 DAYS of Activism against GBV’ with extraordinary play
The UN’s ’16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence’ began last week, and the European Union, through the Embassy of Denmark in Kenya, has marked the occasion by sponsoring an extraordinary play.
Titled ‘For Coloured Girls who have considered suicide’ (FCG) and a choreopoetry drama by Ntozake Shange, and directed by renowned US play director (and professor of theater) Cheryl J. Williams, this intense play features a mixture of some of Kenya’s most renown female actors, and a trio of talented actresses from Denmark.
There are household names like Nini Wacera and Mbeki Mwalimu in the play, alongside Marianne Nungo, Melissa Kiplagat, Tana Gachoka, Wanjiku-Victoria Seest (Vicki), and the Lady in Blue, Rebecca Langley, whose dashing, playful monologue in the middle of the show provides a critical pivot to the play that transforms it from intense to involving.
The characters in ‘For Coloured Girls’ are all just colours, and corresponding costumes – Lady in Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple (the rainbow colours), with a bold, bald-headed Mbeki Mwalimu playing the ‘Lady in Brown.’
Nini Wacera, as the Lady in Purple, complains about a man who ‘almost ran off with all my stuff, like a common kleptomaniac,’ to represent all the people who con women or do not return their belongings after a break-up.
“I am a woman, I need all my s&&&,” she tells the audience. “Gimme my stuff, I want it back, man …”
Or perhaps it is metaphorical – is it her ‘innocence’ that has been stolen?
Then there is the Lady who welcomes back her old lover to her home, a chap from whom they have been separated ‘forever,’ but with whom it clicks like a charm as if they had never parted.
Turns out ‘Mr. Past’ is far from perfect. In fact, he is a man on the ‘DL’ *Down Low (secretly bisexual men in relationships with women), who crawls gay bars and makes the woman who loved and trusted him HIV positive. When she questions him, he knocks her out cold. And leaves!
“Turns out it was not a love poem, but a requiem for myself.”
Marianne Nungo, the ‘complicated’ Lady in Red, gives a superlative performance. “I’m sorry about your series of sorries,” she says, about men who constantly do their women dirty, and then apologise for their bad behaviour.
“I am tired of collecting apologies,” she sneers, then adds sarcastically. “I would have to move all the clothes from my closet to make enough room for all your apologies.”
But this is not a play, once it gets going, that you will ever be sorry for attending, ever.
Honourable Irene Mayaka Nyakerario, the Nominated MP from Nyamira, was at Signature Auditorium in Westlands where the play was on show over the weekend and says it ‘passes a powerful message against SGBV.’
Artistic Director Michael Omoke says FCG is part of the movement called ‘Silenced No More’ that uses theatre to champion women’s rights, and ‘fight against violence towards women and girls,’ and thanked the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces whose support has been instrumental.
EU Ambassador to Kenya Henriette Geiger said the play shows the power of ‘music, dance, and sisterhood as a path towards healing from trauma,’ whilst the Ambassador of Denmark to Kenya, H.E. Stephan Schonemann, urged everyone who can see ‘For Coloured Girls, wherever they can.’
On Thursday this week at 9 am, FCG will play at the University of Nairobi, complete with a panel, before moving on to Kisumu next weekend.
And finally, Mombasa, on the end weekend of the UN 16 Days Artivism.