West African adaption of classic at Baxter

Nana Bulabula in Women of Owu. Picture: Rob Keith

Women of Owu – an adaptation by Nigerian playwright Femi Osofisan, of the classic, The Trojan Women – is on at the Baxter Flipside until Saturday October 30, at 6pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2pm.

Presented by UCT’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and 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.

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, enter Owu and sack the city, killing all the male inhabitants and 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.

There is no age restriction for Women of Owu, but parental guidance is advised.

Performances are limited to 50% capacity, with all Covid-19 protocols in place.

Tickets are R120 and R75 for students and pensioners. Book through Webtickets. For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email at carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za