The Kampala international Theatre Festival that closed on Sunday night outdid itself with the programming – breaking boundaries with a space like The Square where no theatricals have been held before and going ahead to programme shows that didn’t only kick the box but stood on its top.
The festival as always had a number of one man shows but what could have separated this year’s edition from what we have seen in the past was the ability of having one man shows that were basic.
One of these shows was Esosa Edo’s The Woman Who Would Be King, a story about Hatshepsut, the documented first pharaoh of Egypt.
The production chronicles the journey of Hatshepsut who Esosa embodies in the different stages of life alongside other characters that shaped her walk to the throne, on a rectangular stage with a robe at the rear end, a doll, bracelets and stand, she portrayed the pharaoh to be with ease.
But many of these were items she barely touched throughout the production, they were props that had particular messages about a few characters she was meant to embody, in fact, the real prop that did the job throughout the production was her golden scarf.
The scarf became a primary object that defined characters by the way she decided to hold it, for instance, when she was being a kid, she skipped it as a rope, when she was being Hatshepsut, she carefully crossed it behind her back and held the remaining bits of it like a lady.
Talking to Tsupug.com, Esosa said that being a fashion designer, clothing affects her, a scarf was originally something they had been playing with in the rehearsals, but again, she says that she has always wanted to do a one man show and had seen how one man shows are hard to follow; but with this scarf her director thought it could be positioned in different ways for different characters.
Why the Scarf?
Directed by Marishka Phillips with Tarus Mateen compositions, The Woman Who Would Be King premiered in Cape Town last year, at that time, Britain was letting in female Prime Minister in many years and Hillary Clinton was on the verge of becoming the first female president of the United States; did such topics influence this production?
She says she thought the US would have a female president when she threw in a line on women that dare to do things men have dominated though says the timing was simply divine.
Esosa talks about her timing for the show
The Woman Who Would Be King was staged twice at the Kampala International Theatre Festival and twice, the audience reviews were mind blowing, Robert Ernest Bumba, an actor that had earlier been part of a reading of Waiting For March by Colman Otunga described Esosa’s work as mind blowing and later commended her for the lessons her production offered him as an actor, Andrew Ssebaggala, proprietor House of Talent in a face book post said that being a storyteller, she added so much to his craft.
“Esosa gracefully and without any struggle lived every moment of the story, embodying 11 characters. Amazing!”
Esosa says that her reason to do a story mirroring Hatshepsut was because it is basically a story of an underdog that no one believed in and a fact that history has tried so much to erase her story even when she did so much for Egypt.
Of course, she was also contesting Hollywood’s continuous casting of white people as Egyptians even when Egyptians were naturally people of color….
Why Hatshepsut among all the African heroines?
Esosa ends the production with a message paying homage to women that have stood up to defend rights of other women or people, she talks about the women that stood in front of the South African high court to those that protested the mini skirt abolition in Kampala.
Excerpt of Esosa paying tribute to activists