Play, panel delve into what is slowing push for equality

Shyness, fear of the unknown hold women back

In Summary

•  Adaptation of French play ‘Antigone’ cast women in decision-making roles

• This and a panel discussion on gender parity evoked need for intentionality

The stage play, Antigone, performed by Nairobi Performing Arts Studio
The stage play, Antigone, performed by Nairobi Performing Arts Studio

Happy International Women’s month to all exceptional women out there.

My women’s month began with a beautiful stage performance by the Nairobi Performing Arts Studio at Alliance Francaise.

The team presented, ‘Antigone’, the play by French dramatist Jean Anouilh, inspired by the Greek tragedy by Sophocles and adapted by Gadwill Odhiambo.

The play, which was written around 441 BCE, is centred around Antigone, a Theban princess and the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, who defies the law of King Thebes, to bury her brother Polyneices who was killed in battle.

Co-directed by Stuart Nash and Wakio Mzenge, the stage is set at State House in Nairobi during a nationwide unrest following a disputed election.

After the death of former President Idipo, his sons Polycarp and Eugene reached an agreement to take turns holding the presidency.

Everything had been running smoothly until when Eugene refused to hand over power to his brother at the end of his term, which resulted in a battle that led to the brothers killing each other.

Koron, who served as the Vice President, became President in a bid to restore stability in Kenya.

She issued a decree that Polycarp’s body be left to rot outside, unburied as an example of what will happen to anybody who attempts to incite violence.

Antigone, the sister of Polycarp and Koron’s God-daughter, cannot accept Koron’s decree and sets about to bury her brother in an attempt to allow his soul to rest.

The play, also centered around Antigone, shifted focus to also include the representation of oppressed women, just as she was seen to represent the French resistance in the 1944 version.

In this Kenyan adaptation, some roles were changed from male to female to enhance the women’s role in the play, so all major dramatic roles were female.

I enjoyed every bit of the play and felt the strong female presence on stage. It was exciting to see each character being brought to life.

You could tell each character’s key traits, and something that stuck with me was how women in the play ended up taking the lead and having to make the hard decisions.

Traditionally, women were considered unequal to men, but today, the world races towards the goal of achieving equality in all sectors.

Before I went to watch the play, I sat through a panel discussion where gender parity was a key topic.

The lady panelists talked of how, even though a whole lot is being put into place to include women and achieve gender equality in all sectors, we are still far from achieving the ultimate goal.

Which got me thinking about the intentionality and resilience we need as women.

In the play, when Koron assumed the responsibility of being the President, she is seen to be determined to restore stability.

She was intentional about taking up that position and ensuring there is stability in the country, and even got to a point where she had to make tough decisions when her orders were disobeyed.

Being intentional can involve breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes and creating environments where all women are valued and respected.

To achieve this, I believe we have to be present as women; we have to be there.

I understand it is secure to do something that has been done before but there is always that fear of doing the unknown and shyness.

We can implement and advocate for as many policies, disburse as much funds and offer as many opportunities to show support for women as we like, but it all starts with being intentionally present.

As women, we have to be there and make a contribution by doing something new.

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