The Stories They Told; Ubumuntu Arts Festival 2017, Day 3

Stories are told a thousand different ways. Some stories are told directly, while others are told mysteriously; I witnessed last night at Ubumuntu Arts Festival 2017, Day 3. As I sat in the crowd, I watched different performances that illustrated or told “Humanity.”

Bartolomeo - Sweden

As I enjoyed the show, experiencing different worlds, there came the story that totally blew me away because of how it was told. It was performance called Bartolomeo. In the beginning, I thought it was just art while I watched every move. Somehow because of their energy, the four Swedish female performers reminded me of Stieg Larsson’s characters in MIllenium I, II, and II; may he rest in peace.Everything these women represented in this dance, I perceived that this is what Swedish women are like. I turned to tell my friend just that, and as words came out of my mouth it occurred to me that the story was “the humanity of a woman.” The story of women in general. So here is what I saw, what I read from the movements of their bodies.

From the colors of their hair, their hairstyles, and their costume choices, I perceived the presentation of a woman’s body, or the physical appearance of a woman. Theirs was simple and complex, quite tight but very comfortable. But upon the appearance that could be seen as unflattering by some, they moved, curved and danced to indicate the sexiness and the attrativeness of a woman’s body.

Now to the strength they used while dancing along with some remarkable moves, they showed the meekness and submission of a woman at some point, but the larger part showed the physical strength of a woman, maybe of a modern woman; the intimidation a woman holds in her powers; their support for each other even when the act is to lift up your friend and carry her on your shoulder. Women can do that; and this gesture is both empowering and inspiring. Along with that, the performance showed a woman’s ability to do sports; to use physical power to do physical exercises.

The motion study danced about the loneliness of a woman and the mental strength. Moving towards the end of the dance, the women used flour, throwing it this way and that artistically. They spilled the flour on their clothes, on the floor, they danced and laid on a flour-covered floor as they occasionally cried the loud sound “Oh!” From this, I pictured a traditional woman or any woman’s ablility to multitask but more importantly, to do house chores. House chores aren’t an easy thing at all; so, to me these women shouted the forceful “Oh” sound to indicate a woman’s pain from all the work that she does every single day. There goes the tale of the humanity of woman.

Originally, “Bartolomeo is a powerful motion study of four women’s inward frustration about her role and place in the society. It takes the expression in the form of gestures and body percussion, culminating in a crescendo of massive physical movements. It is humorous, unpredictale, strong and challenging.” The choreographer is Marri Carrasco, who performs the piece with Elin Hallgren, Rita Lemivaara, Bianca Traum/Maria Jonsson.

Chibok Girls - Nigeria

In the festival, the first performance that held me tight in its grasp is a play by Nigerians about Chibok Girls. The story was very absorbing as the performers told this story from different perspectives of: the girls who are attacked and abducted, the ones who escaped, the mothers who lost their young ones, the villagers whose villages were destroyed by Boko Haram. It was a four stage play: The Road FromChibok I, The Road From Chibok II, Debriefing, Stigmata, and A Captive Audience. The bottom line of the heartbreaking stories was that kidnapping didn’t happen just then, it started way before, and continued to happen after. As I heard the gunshot sound effects, watched the jumping in terror and shrieking of the performers, the sounds of their agony, the words of their pain, pain caused by other human beings, and some images on the screen of the chibok girls, and the mothers who lost their daughters; I felt tears forming in my eyes. I usually don’t allow my mind to wonder about terrible things that people do to one another. I don’t like to think about those things because they drive me crazy and then I write articles like this one . But then, I realized that I was wrong. I should remember these things.

Beyond Mandela – South Africa

Then there were another remarkable performance; Beyond Mandela by a South African Comedian who really made uslaugh. Even though his plays were very hilarious, he touched on the world’s biggest humanity issues; racism, sexism, homophobia among others, in different impressions that he made. Among them, he made the chicken impression highlighting the racism issue, the “Over the Rainbow” song with his own lyrics, the impression of a Women Football Champion who was raped because she was gay, the family story of Trump whose name was joined to Rumplestiltskin’s and became Trumplestiltskin, and the cover of No Woman no Cry into No Zuma No Cry.

Waiting – Iraq & Beligium

The performance about Waiting was truly one of a kind. The stories that were presented projected on the three torn pieces of cloth, started with the definition of what waiting is really all about, then to how people feel about waiting, and to what to do while you wait. Somewhere in the middle, the stories told by different people in the world became intense as people talked about the war in Syria and the agony it is to wait for that war to end, to wait to get their families out of there, to wait for so many years to see their wives and children again, to wait for the papers that confirm them as citizens in other countries… We listened quietly to the stories and we forgot about the torn pieces of cloth that were the screens on which we were watching these stories. The art was very intense and it sucked us the right into soul of humanity.

All in all, Ubumuntu Arts Festival is once again a memorable event for the humanity of the globe and once again I heard people wishing to be the Rwandan Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports so that a massive National Theatre in Rwanda could be constructed.

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