Eclipsed, Drama of Sisterhood Amid African Violence, Opens in DC Sept. 6

News   Eclipsed, Drama of Sisterhood Amid African Violence, Opens in DC Sept. 6
The world premiere of Eclipsed, Danai Gurira's play about women caught in the crossfire of war in Liberia, opens Sept. 6 as the season opener by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC.
Eclipsed's Dawn Ursula and Jessica Frances Dukes
Eclipsed's Dawn Ursula and Jessica Frances Dukes Photo by Stan Barouh

The playwright is the award-winning co-creator and performer of the Off-Broadway and internationally acclaimed hit In the Continuum. Directed by Liesl Tommy, the Eclipsed cast features Woolly Mammoth Company members Jessica Frances Dukes and Dawn Ursula, with Uzo Aduba, Ayesha Ngaujah and Liz Femi Wilson.

Eclipsed runs to Sept. 28 in Washington, DC. Previews began Aug. 31.


According to production notes, "The captive wives (Uzo Aduba, Liz Femi Wilson) of a Liberian rebel officer form a hardscrabble sisterhood, their lives set on a nightmarish detour by civil war. With the arrival of a new girl who can read (Ayesha Ngaujah), the return of a wife who has become a soldier (Jessica Frances Dukes), and the appearance of an aide worker (Dawn Ursula) — their possibilities are quickly transformed. Drawing on reserves of wit and compassion, these defiant survivors ask: when the fog of battle lifts, could a different destiny emerge?"

Artistic director Howard Shalwitz stated, "Woolly is proud to launch this sharp-edged, surprisingly humorous and emotionally powerful new play — which makes a universal statement about the impact of war and the resilience of individuals who forge a vision of the future in the face of the cruelest circumstances. Eclipsed will launch Woolly's 30th season of plays about big topics and pressing conversations about the world we live in."

Playwright Danai Gurira
photo by Craig Schwartz

Gurira co-created (with Nikkole Salter) and performed in the award-winning two-woman play In the Continuum, which premiered off-Broadway and toured the U.S. and Southern Africa. For her work on that production, Danai won a 2006 Obie Award, the 2006 Outer Critics John Gassner Award, and the 2004 Global Tolerance Award (Friends of the United Nations), in addition to being honored by the Theatre Hall of Fame. In 2007 she received a Helen Hayes Award for Best Lead Actress in In the Continuum at Woolly Mammoth. She was most recently seen on Broadway in Lincoln Center Theater's production of Joe Turner's Come and Gone. She is the recipient of '08 TCG New Generations travel grant for Eclipsed and has taught playwriting and acting in Uberia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. She received her MFA in acting from New York university. Danai was born in the U.S. to Zimbabwean parents and raised in Zimbabwe. Director Tommy is a native of Cape Town, South Africa, currently living in New York City. She began her career as an actress, training in the UK and the States, and then shifted into directing upon moving to New York. In 2009, she directed the world premieres of The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson and Angela's Mixtape by Eisa Davis, both in New York, as well as two productions at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV (Davis' The History of Light and Steven Dietz's Yankee Tavern). She will direct another production of Eclipsed at Yale Rep in October 2009.

The production and design team for Eclipsed includes Daniel Ettinger (set design), Kathleen Geldard (costume design), Colin K. Bills (lighting design), Veronika Vorel (sound design), Jennifer Sheetz (properties), Tonya Beckman Ross (dialect coach) and John Gurski (fight choreographer).

Woolly Mammoth is located at 641 D Street, NW (7th & D) in Washington, DC. For more information, visit

Ayesha Ngaujah, Uzo Aduba and Liz Femi Wilson in <i>Eclipsed</i>
Ayesha Ngaujah, Uzo Aduba and Liz Femi Wilson in Eclipsed Photo by Stan Barouh
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