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Stories of Liberian Women in Time of War to Premiere in New York

NEW YORK, Sep 22 2015 (IPS) - While Liberia’s civil war is distant history to some, an African playwright has rescued the tale of five women, captive wives of a rebel commander, whose survival in a treacherous war zone resonates strongly even today.

“When I first came upon the story of Liberian women, it was actually about women soldiers,” recalled writer-actor Danai Gurira. “And when I saw that image, with AK47s and tight jeans, I said I need to figure out that story, that portrayal of African women that we never get to see.”

“ ‘Eclipse’ is a story about a group of regular women motivated to end the war,” added director Liesl Tommy. “It’s about how they impact other women,” letting Gurira finished the thought: “…how they get through it, and what they become in order to survive.”

Starring in the theatrical performance, which begins previews at New York’s Public Theatre on Sep. 29 and officially opens Oct. 14, is Kenya’s acclaimed actress and high fashion model Lupita Nyong’o.

In a recent interview with Variety magazine, Nyong’o described her attraction to the theatre piece. “It’s about how women end up creating freedom within themselves,” she said. “My character is wife number four. It’s about her grappling with the loss of her life.”

Gurira, born in America and raised in Zimbabwe, builds upon her reputation for hard-hitting drama on relevant themes involving African women. From the 2005 play “In the Continuum” about two females living with HIV, “Eclipsed,” is an unflinching treatise on the subjugation of women in war-torn Liberia. “It’s a gut-wrenching saga told with poignancy and wit, precisely the kind of niche today’s cutting-edge theater strives to fill,” writes Paul Harris of Variety magazine.

“These women in the story are amazing people with amazing potential,” says Gurira. “But they get eclipsed, there’s a blockage that happens to their lives against their will. But the blockage passes, it’s temporary.

“There are some amazing African women out there, people who we tend not to pay attention to in our global community, but we should,” she declared. “I’m excited to imagine that it could happen with this exchange of audience with performers.”

The production is scheduled to run through Nov. 8. (End)

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