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.
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.
Niqabi Ninja by Sara Shaarawi (Egypt) is set in Cairo during the chaotic time of the Egyptian uprising. It allows two actresses to explore the range and complexity of harassment against women, and one woman’s ability to develop a response via an avenging Superhero, born on the streets of Cairo, who is ready to seek out and avenge every single act of harassment she has experienced at the hands of men. She has a list, a record of injuries and a variety of punishments to mete out. Watch out men of Cairo, the Niqabi Ninja has a score to settle, and she is coming after you.
Sara Sawaari is a playwright, translator and performer from Cairo who is now based in Glasgow. She has had her work performed at the Tron Theatre, The Traverse, Village Pub Theatre, Platform, and the CCA. Sara also took part in the Playwrights Studio Scotland’s 2015 Mentoring Programme and the National Theatre of Scotland’s Breakthrough Writers programme in 2016. Other credits include dramaturg, performing and translation for One Day in Spring (Oran Mor/NTS) and Here’s the News from Over There (Northern Stage). She is also one of the recipients of the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland’s 2017 New Playwright’s Awards. is a theatre maker from Cairo who is currently based in Glasgow.
Her play in this collection, Niqaba Ninja has been staged most recently at the Arts Admin Collective in Cape Town from 8th - 20th May 2017, see https://www.facebook.com/niqabininja/.
Bonganyi by Sophia Kwachuh Mempuh (Cameroon) is a dance drama that explores 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.
Sophia Kwachuh Mempuh, born 8th January 1979, is from the North West region of Cameroon, and she works fluently in both English and French. She studied at the University of Yaounde I in the Department of Arts and Archeology, Performing Arts Section where she is presently a PhD student (B.A. 2001, MA 2011). She started acting in high school, in festivals in and out of the country, and has also acted in a number of films, acting as second assistant artistic director and a script girl in CITE CAMPUS by Vincent Ndumbe. She is currently She is training in film directing (documentary) with MALO PICTURES, and she is an online volunteer to the UN. She is Vice-President for ASSITEJ (International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People), CAMEROON, linked to the wider international association, she is Administrative Assistant for FATEJ (Festival Africain du Theatre pour L’Enfance et la Jeunesse), Vice-Secretary General for CID (Conseil International de la Dance Cameroon, Yaounde), and director for Theatre for Children. Sophia has written and directed several plays, Divine Providence, Shanine and Shanone (2006 for FATEJ festival), My Guavas (2008), Boganyi (2010), and My Father’s Treasure, none of her work has yet been published.We are working with her on Boganyi.
Unsettled by JC Niala (Kenya) takes place in The Cypress Café, once the heart of a town dominated by English Settlers near Mt. Kenya. It explores gendered relationships, land and language issues and relationships between Kenyans living in and out of the country now and how we negotiate the past in the present; and issues black and white Kenyans face living in and returning to, the country.
JC Niala is a Kenyan award winning screen, stage writer and poet. Her play The Strong Room was shortlisted by Wole Soyinka in BBC Africa Performance before going on to sell out productions in Nairobi & London. The money raised from the Nairobi productions was used to re-home 19 families in Kibera, after they lost their homes in a fire. JC believes in the unifying power of theatre and as such was one of the playwrights in the 3rd Annual Round the World Play staged in New York in 2015. Wazi? FM, a film she wrote about the lives of Urban Refugees, won 4 awards including the Golden Dhow for best picture at Zanzibar International Film Festival in 2015. In June 2016 JC was poet-in-residence at Cable St. Community Gardens as part of the London Parks & Gardens Trust & The Poetry School's Re-Mixed Borders Project. Combining her passion for drama & poetry she performed her musical verse drama A Cow's Tale at the residency. JC is currently attending summer school at the University of Copenhagen on a student exchange scholarship from the University of Oxford where she is reading for an MSt. in Creative Writing. We are working with her on her play.
Pictured right: JC Niala as Mti Hekima (The Wisdom Tree), narrator, for a performance of A Cow's Tale.
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.
Adong Lucy 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 & Producer, who creates captivating plays and films that provoke and promote dialogue on social issues affecting underprivileged groups.
She is a 2015 graduate of Temple University MFA Film and Media Arts, with a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship 2012, where she also took classes in MFA Theater Directing. 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, though none have been published.
Her work has been presented in different theaters 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”, Kevin Spacey, Oscar Award-Winning actor and Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theater in London, on Adong’s play Just Me, You and THE SILENCE.
Adong is proud and honoured to be a part of the African Women Playwright Network Family.
I Want To Fly
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.
Thembelihle Moyo born on 16th of October 1983 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in a family of eight people, and is a mother of two. Her passion for writing developed while she was at Magwegwe Secondary School, where she was acknowledged as the best student in creative writing and drama. After graduating from high school, Thembelilhe taught at the school for four years, using her creativity to write dramas for students to perform during assemblies and prize giving days. At Amakhosi Arts Academy, she studied Journalism and Media, as there was no creative arts course. However, she enrolled in an evening course specialising in theatre, film, producing and directing, and so graduated with a Diploma in Creative Arts in 2005 and Diploma in media studies and Journalism in 2006. Currently, she is the founder and the creative director of Gitiz Arts Organisation which has developed Dance Zimbabwe and Dance Remedial Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. This initiative suggests her other passion for developing young performers.
Plays she has written include Colour Blue (2010), Sibahle Nje and Nomhle (2011), Let it out (2014). She has directed Song of a woman, ITS not gold, Voices of Solo women. She has also written Total traditional dances and Contemporary dances Zimbabwe
Mbuzeni by Koleka Putuma (South Africa) is a story of four female orphans, aged eight to twelve, who live in a graveyard, and play games that challenge how we do or do not discuss death or dying. It explores their sisterhood and the unseen force that governs and dictates the laws that the villagers live by.
Koleka Putuma is a Theatre Director, Writer, and Performance Poet based in Cape Town
Her plays include UHM (2014), Mbuzeni (2015/2016), plays for young audiences which include Ekhaya for 2-7 year olds and SCOOP, the first South African play for 2 weeks-12 month old babies. She was nominated for the Rosalie van der Gucht Prize for Best New Directors at the annual Fleur Du Cap Theatre Awards (2015). She has been named one of the young pioneers who took South Africa by storm in 2015 by The Sunday Times. She has recently been awarded the Pen Student Writing Prize for her poem “Water”, and published her debut poetry collection, Collective Amnesia in 2017 (uhlangapress.co.za).
She is a resident poet and creative director of spoken word collective Lingua Franca and Co-Founder of a theatre company called The Papercut Collective.
Not That Woman
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.
Tosin Kooshima Tume holds a B.A and M.A degrees in English and Theatre Arts from the University of Ilorin and University of Abuja, Nigeria, respectively, and she is presently on her PhD programme at the Performing Arts department of University of Ilorin, Nigeria. She currently teaches at the Theatre and Media Arts Department of Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria. She is a Playwright, Director, Choreographer, Actor, Dancer, Singer, and a Theatre scholar with an experience spanning fifteen years. ‘Tosin Tume has participated in several theatrical productions, festivals, carnivals, workshops and conferences within and beyond the shores of Nigeria. Her play titled “Sweet Poison” was among the selected scripts for the 2015 ASSITEJ SA New Writing for Young Audiences in Africa programme which was run in partnership with The Kennedy Centre’s New Visions New Voices project in Washington D.C, United States, and The Soweto Theatre in Guateng, South Africa. The play was performed at the ASSITEJ SA African Youth Theatre and Dance Festival held at the Artscape Theatre, Cape Town from 22nd – 27th June, 2015. She has also written several published and unpublished plays and dance libretti. Her other works include The Pact (2013), Tribal Marks (2014), Mojogbayi (2015), Gimbiya, The Future is Now, Iyefemigha, Arodan, and Roll Out the Drums.