PRESS: WOMEN OF OWU, a Nigerian adaptation of the classic, The Trojan Women at The Baxter

Baxter Theatre

WOMEN OF OWU - an adaptation by respected Nigerian playwright Femi Osofisan, of the classic, The Trojan Women - bursts onto the Baxter Flipside stage, from 27 to 30 October 2021, at 6pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2pm.

Presented by UCT’s Centre for Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies (CTDPS), in collaboration with The Baxter Theatre, the short season of only five performances, is co-directed by Iman Isaacs and Mwenya Kabwe.

The production showcases 20 CTDPS final year acting students, comprising Abigail Avidon, Lisekho Bulabula, Sidne Barnett, Tayla-Rose Bisset, Nomakhosi Meveni, Caitlyn da Aparecida, Adan Fagan, Dean Goldblum, Mpumelelo Phanginxiwa, Nahum Hughes, Cwenga Koyana, Bianca Lakey, Oratile Ndimande, Daniel Newton, Lyle October, Stian Oosthuizen, Lernice Parker, Tim Stadler, James Stoffberg and Lisa Tredoux.

Musical direction is by Babalwa Zimbini Makwetu, costumes by Leigh Bishop, lighting design by Benever Arendse, set by Lungile Cindi and projection design by Nicola Pilkington.

Osofisan is an internationally respected Nigerian playwright, director, scholar, activist, novelist, poet, actor and songwriter. In 2016 he became the first African honoured by the International Association of Theatre Critics when he was awarded the prestigious Thalia Prize.

Women of Owu is set in the ancient city of Owu, which Osofisan describes (in his notes on the play’s genesis), as a model of prosperity and organisation. After a seven-year siege, the combined armies of two Yoruba kingdoms, along with Oyo refugees, recruited as mercenaries, entered Owu and sacked the city.

In the third year of the siege, the rains stopped, weakening the once formidable city and strengthening the Allied Forces camped on the other side of the city walls. When they entered the city in the seventh year, they destroyed Owu to the ground and reduced it to rubble. They set fire to the city and killed all the male inhabitants, capturing the women of Owu, as their spoils of war.

The play takes place a day after the sacking of the city. This rendition of the west African adaptation, set in a dystopic African future, is laden with echoes of a timeless lament and resonates with the current context and scourge of gender-based violence across South Africa. Through their rituals of protest, the Women of Owu, lay bare the unspeakable trauma inflicted on them.

Women of Owu’s brief season, runs from 27 to 30 October, at 6pm and a matinee on Saturday, 30 October at 2pm, in the Baxter Flipside. There is no age restriction, but parental guidance is advised.

Performances are limited to 50 percent capacity as regulated by lockdown adjusted alert Level 1 restrictions, with all COVID-19 protocols in place and to be observed. These include the availability of hand sanitisers, tracking and tracing recorded, temperature checks, mandatory wearing of masks and practicing of physical distancing. Audience members are advised to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the performance to avoid delays.

Tickets are R120 and R75 for students and pensioners and booking is through Webtickets online at www.webtickets.co.za or at Pick n Pay stores. For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or e-mail her at carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za.