Long-time collaborators from East Africa and America stage Erik Ehn's play about the Rwandan genocide.
Maria Kizito explores the prayer life of real-life nun, Maria Kizito, convicted for complicity in the 1994 Rwandan genocide; mediated by a naive American nun who attends her trial. After writing the play, Erik Ehn began taking students and faculty to Rwanda and Uganda to study the history of these countries and ways that art can participate in healing (the More Life Exchange). Now, artists from Uganda and America who have participated in this conversation come together to stage the play.
Maria Kizito is one of seventeen plays that make up Erik Ehn’s Soulographie, a durational performance event looking at 20th century genocides in the United States (the Tulsa Race Riots), in East Africa (Rwanda, Uganda) and Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador). Each play is being produced independently throughout the United States (and Uganda) and then will converge at La MaMa in New York this November 10 - 18. We aim to raise conversation about genocides' causes and consequences; and how it thinks itself. To work towards recognizing it, so we can stop creating it.
Erik Ehn with More Life Exchange members discuss the events at Sovu, Maria's convent, in Rwanda (2007).
The journey so far: UG artist/producer JB Kyabaggu gathers a team in Uganda for a workshop. American director Emily Mendelsohn travels to Kampala and directs. Emily and JB have been working together on More Life since 2007 and, more recently, on an East African production of Deborah Asiimwe's Cooking Oil that performed in Uganda (October 2010) and Rwanda (August 2011). They present a reading of Maria Kizito at Uganda's National Theatre on April 27.
Annette Nakawooya, Fiona Atuhairwe, and Allen Kagasuru in rehearsal
What we plan next: We share tea and read the play in our home cities throughout the US. In June, Emily and designer Jeff Becker try out some scenic ideas in New Orleans. In July, a short workshop at Vassar's Powerhouse program. Then, in October: three actors from the Ugandan reading of Maria Kizito will travel (along with American counterparts from LA, New Orleans, and New York) to Brown, NACL and NYC as we build the La MaMa performance.
We have support from Brown University to bring our team into the room together; we need your help to sustain us while we are there. $4500 allows us to give each artist a $100/wk food stipend for the duration of our rehearsals and performances, and buy materials for costumes.
Our production sets Erik's text (in English, Kinyarwanda, Ateso, Banyankole, Luganda) to original music by the cast and Rwandan vocalist Solange Umuhire. We use music, dance, and the mechanics of the landscape to off-center ourselves (create meditative space), as we consider Maria, her path (and its consequences) into the heart of genocide, and our own dizzying capacity to turn from the human.
Opportunities to sustain exchange across so much time and distance are rare. Thanks for your good company and support in continuing to deepen the conversation through this play.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.