IOTF 2023: They Call Me, “Woman!”

Written by Ayo Jaiyesimi, Thespian Family Theatre & Productions (2023), Nigeria

“All over the world, women have to delicately balance their various roles as birthers, nurturers, financial contributors, and in some cases, sole sustainers of the family.”

They Call Me, ‘Woman!’, is a set of 5 monologues spotlighting some of the issues confronting the African woman. Whilst there’s strong advocacy for gender recognition, equality, and equity all over the world, the struggles of African women, educated or illiterate, young, or old, modern, or traditional, need to be felt in order to be understood. This is our spotlight.”

These monologues are vivid and strong, focusing on the place of women as property and without agency around their own decisions, but without ever belittling the stories they tell.

We meet the junior bride serving her household and shunned as she delivers only girls in multiple pregnancies; the terrified pre-teen girl clutching her doll as a man older than her father takes his marital rights.

Production shot for They Call Me Woman

There’s the working wife who dodges predatory approaches in education and resentment at home; and the survivor of traditional and painful ‘rites of womenhood’.

Passionate women whose voices are often disregarded and silenced. These women will not be held back or kept to heel because they are people who matter. These are cries from the depths of the heart: moments of happiness glinting in the cracks of life.

Between each piece, and sometimes woven in, are moments of joy, music, dancing, power, and freedom. In Jaiyesimi’s texts, we can feel true empathy with these women and their fates, forever destined to be second but far from irrelevant.

This show is not afraid to tackle taboo topics but ends on a note of hope. Efe Orhorha, Seyi Crown, Treasure Chikwendu, Owumi Ugbeye, and Victoria Okere are inspirational performers in each special moment.

They Call Me, ‘Woman! is available to watch for free in the International Online Theatre Festival on 17-18 and 28-29 Apr.


Image credit: Ayo Jaiyesimi and Thespian Family Theatre Productions

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