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'For colored girls': Fighting GBV through theatre

Health & Science
 Actress Melissa Kiplagat and Colored Girls play director Cheryl Williams during an interview at KTN News studios along Mombasa Road. [Courtesy]

A 48-year-old play, known for powerfully describing racism, sexism, violence, and rape experienced by women is set to be performed in Kenya, as a way to create awareness against Gender-Based Violence.

Dubbed ‘Colored Girls’, the play comprises of 20 scenes put together and featuring seven women each representing the color of the rainbow.

While speaking during a KTN News interview, the play’s director Cheryl Williams said the play is still ‘relevant’ to GBV-related incidents happening to women and girls across the country.

She said the play is part of a campaign dubbed, ‘Silenced No More’, that aims to address GBV in Kenya through a series of theater performances, debates and discussions in line with the 16 days of activism.

Danish-based and Kenyan artistic director, Michael Omoke together with the Danish Embassy in Kenya have started the campaign, in partnership with the European Union and other stakeholders.

The play runs from November 25, which shall be the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women until December 10, the Human Rights Day.

“The issues highlighted in the Play deals with Sexual Gender Based Violence. Kenya has been addressing these issues and it is now time to take action,” Williams said.

According to her, the performances will be staged in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa.

“Survivors of sexual gender-based violence should know that they are no longer victims but victors. They overcame what they went through and it is important to tell those stories through film plays to spread hope and encouragement,” she said.

Williams said gender-based violence is a global challenge that requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders to win the war.

Organisers say the 'Silenced No More' – Confronting Violence against Women and Young Girls” project tackles taboos head-on and speaks inconvenient truths, by giving a voice to victims who have experienced SGBV and FGM.

The play was written by the Playwright, poet and author, the late Ntozake Shange.

In its rallying call this year, the World Health Organization said, “In every country and culture, more action is needed to ensure women in all their diversity live free of violence and coercion. Health impacts of violence can last a lifetime, affecting physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health.”

Melissa Kiplagat will be among the actresses participating in the play.

"The power of this play is very universal. The woman experience is a woman experience everywhere...," she said.

Melissa is an internationally trained professional actress working primarily in Kenya and is most known for her lead role, Akisa, in the first Netflix licensed show in East Africa, Country Queen.

"We are seven women featuring different life experiences. Being a part of the cast sharing my experience from childhood, adulthood and maturity, relationships and finding myself as a woman is such a good way to give hope to those who might have gone through such ordeals," she said.

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