There are many literary projects making a difference in the way we read and talk about African literature. One of such projects is the forthcoming collection of plays titled Contemporary Plays by African Women.
The collection features playwrights from various parts of the continent—Sara Shaarawi is from Egyt. Sophia Mempuh Kwachuch is from Cameroon. JC Niala is from Kenya. Adong Judith is from Uganda. Thembelihle Moyo is from Zimbabwe, Koleka Putuma from South Africa, and Tosin Jobe-Tume from Nigeria.
Edited by Dr. Yvette Hutchison and Amy Jeptha, the collection is a product of the wonderful work being done by The African Women Playwright Network, a collaborative project housed at the University of Warwick that “facilitates research, debate and encourages the dissemination of creative practice produced by female creative practitioners living in Africa.”
Dr. Hutchison is a Reader in Theatre and Performance and Director of Graduate Studies at University of Warwick. Ms. Jeptha is a playwright and lecturer at the University of Cape Town. With this collection, Hutchison and Jeptha are addressing an unfortunate gap in the publishing industry. Aside from the series of play collections edited by Kathy A. Perkins, plays by African women are not being published or anthologized as much as they should be. Contemporary Plays By African Women is, thus, a significant step in the direction of changing that by giving readers and theaters all over the world better access to plays by African women playwrights.
The collection, which will be published by Methuen, is due out January 24, 2019. It is nice to see Methuen backing the project. Methuen is a global leader in drama publishing. Their connection to African writers goes way back to the early days of African publishing. Fans of Wole Soyinka might know that Methuen publishes most of Soyinka’s plays and poetry.
Kudos to everyone involved in putting the collection together!
We will keep you updated on news about the publication. Meanwhile, learn more about the phenomenal women featured in the collection:
Sara Shaarawi is an Egyptian playwright and producer and recipient of new playwrights award from the National Theatre of Scotland
Sophia Mempuh Kwachuch is a Cameroonian actress, writer who is currently a PhD student at the University of Yaounde, Department of Arts and Archeology, Performing Arts
JC Niala is a Kenyan stage and screenwriter whose play The Strong Room was shortlisted by Wole Soyinka in BBC Africa Performance. Her film Wazi? FM has won several awards including the Best Picture at Zanzibar InternationalFilm Festival.
Adong Judith is a Ugandan theatre and film director, writer and producer of works that that provoke and promote dialogue on social issues affecting underprivileged groups. She is an alumna of Sundance Theater Lab and the Royal Court Theatre International Playwrights Residency currently living in her home country Uganda.
Thembelihle Moyo is a Zimbabwean creative artists who studied at the Amakhosi arts academy in the creative arts, media studies and journalism. She is the founder and creative director of Gitiz Arts Organisation which has developed two dance concepts in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education: Dance Zimbabwe and Dance Remedial Zimbabwe.
Koleka Putuma is a South African theatre director, writer, and performance poet based in Cape Town. 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.
Tosin Jobe-Tume is a Nigerian playwright, director, choreographer, actor, dancer, singer, and a theatre scholar with experience spanning fifteen years. She is presently on a PhD programme at the Performing Arts department of University of Ilorin, Nigeria, while she teaches in the Theatre and Media Arts Department of Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria.