Today I went to see the Broadway play ’Eclipsed’, a remarkable piece about women and war, by an entirely black female cast and creative team. If you have a chance to be in New York before mid-June I recommend you to go and see it. All performances are dedicated to the abducted schoolgirls in northern Nigeria.
The play is about the Liberian civil war. As the centre stage rotates the lighting sheds differently on the complex realities of women in war. It tells the story of the women captured by rebels: who rape, sexual abuse and violate them. Secondly, it tells about the experience of female soldiers that fight as a way to reclaim their own independence; however, ending up killing not only the ‘enemy’ but also handing over his wife and daughters to the ‘commander in chief’ as a way for herself to not again become the victim of sexual violence. Thirdly, it shares the story of the persistent ‘Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace‘ that negotiate with the rebels in order to get the captured women realised. Embedded are the stories of the women looking for their missing daughter, the women dreaming about learning to write and go to school, and the continuation of sexual abuse and violence of women in the refugee camps that is suppose to protect them.
It also touch on the weapon of dehumanising, both the enemy and how women dehumanise each other as a way to stay distant from the atrocities committed against them. And finally, the power of knowing your own and others name and history. Reminding me about the recent important documentary ‘Every Face Has a Name‘ about bringing names to the faces of Jewish refugees after World War II, as well as of today’s refugees reaching the shores of Europe.
While it is a difficult story to tell, the actors skillfully manage to captivate the audience, and bring humour to the story to make us laugh. Pascale Armand in particular played an outstanding part. Not surprisingly but disappointingly was that the topic attracts so few men, as the audience was predominantly women.