Sundance will develop four works through July 31 on the island of Manda, located off the coast of Kenya. The lab is run under the artistic leadership of Philip Himberg, producing artistic director of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, and artistic associate Roberta Levitow.
The selected works include Desperate to Fight by Ethiopian playwright Meaza Worku Berehanu; He is Here He Says I Say by Ugandan playwright Margaret Namulyanga; Mo Faya by Kenyan playwright Eric Wainaina; and Safari Ya Mwandale/Mwandale's Journey by Tanzanian playwright Irene Sanga.
Here's a look at the plays:
Desperate to Fight
"Marta has been divorced three times, and now she’s not sure if she wants to give marriage a fourth try. Tormented by a the sounds of a newly and seemingly happily-wedded couple living next door, she wrestles with her past and the memories of her former husbands. How can Marta reconcile her principles and justify those extreme feelings of love and fury that come with marriage? Desperate to Fight is a sophisticated, witty and paradoxical story about relationships, love and marriage from the heart of the gender-struggles in contemporary Addis Ababa." He is Here He Says I Say
"Ruth is a young woman who throughout her life has listened to the advice of others to guide her in her role as a woman. After all, in different Ugandan cultures, there are norms that clearly state what a good woman should be like! Marriage, pleasing men and being subservient to men top the list. In this poetic meditation, Ruth decides to do what is not expected of a woman. She counters the orders of others with a candid personal voice and her belief that the time is right for women to stop following societal norms blindly. He is Here He Says I Say asks us to answer honestly: what is 'a good woman?'"
"DJ Lwanda’s voice rings out daily on local radio, leading and inspiring the Nairobi community of Kwa Maji. But Anna Mali, an avaricious real estate diva, craves the land beneath their slum. She seduces the fiery young DJ away with a job at a top nationwide station, and organizes a violent campaign to terrorize the people of Kwa Maji. When the government and media turn a blind eye to the decapitated bodies in the streets, DJ Lwanda must return home to expose the truth. But at what cost?"
Safari Ya Mwandale/Mwandale's Journey
"This project takes you on the journey of a young Tanzanian girl to become who she believes she can be. Having been denied many privileges and opportunities because of her gender, Mwandale, now a woman, recounts the story of the sacrifices she made and her crucial struggle with her father to transform limitations into challenges. In Kiswahili using a combination of narration and music, the Sanga looks at the effects of a patriarchal society that keeps the African continent 'a continent of beggars' in spite of its enormous resources – particularly women. Mwandale speaks on behalf of the independence of all African women and their potential role in social transformation."