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Hear word: Stereotype against womenfolk on stage


Elvina Ibru (left); two guests; corporate player, Mr. Hakeem Bello-Osagie; screen matriarch, Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett; another guest and Ifeoma McDermoth at Hear Word

Elvina Ibru (left); two guests; corporate player, Mr. Hakeem Bello-Osagie; screen matriarch, Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett; another guest and Ifeoma McDermoth at Hear Word

The Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, recently played host to one of the most entertaining stage performances of the time – Hear Word.

Produced and directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa and sponsored by Etisalat Nigeria Limited, Hear Word features notable Nigerian female artists who held the audience spellbound, not only with their artistic prowess but also the dialogue that captures daily life experiences is didactic and engaging.

The performance that spanned over two hours opens with a moody song, which gives insight into audience’s expectation.Having featured earlier in Lagos, the Abuja performance of Hear Word parades same cast and explores the same female-centered themes.

The Etisalat-sponsored stage drama featured a collection of 10 stories of real life accounts of inequality, discrimination against women and girls, abuse and violence, as well as other socio-cultural practices that attempt to limit the Nigerian woman from reaching her full potentials and becoming a meaningful contributor to the development of the society.

It is an advocacy piece of performance that uses artistry, social commentary and humour to tell real life stories of issues affecting the lives of women across Nigeria and also examines factors that limit their potential for independence, leadership and meaningful contribution.

To do justice to the theme and sub-themes are famous names in the nation’s stage and motion picture industries such as Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Joke Silva, Bimbo Akintola, Elvina Ibru, Ufoma Mcdermott and Zara Udofia-Ejoh.

The performance of Hear Word follows an unconventional form of stage presentation. With every attribute of a total theatre such as elaborate costume, dance, music and dialogue present, the manner of presentation is however unique in style.

The performance exhibits a combination of talents and professionalism in the world of art. These two elements joined in making the production as representational as possible. Every scene holds a distinct but closely related issues bordering on the women and the society.

At the end of the show, what the audience sees mostly is more of a satire on the society and its age long stereotype impressions about women.

Except for the clear message and explicit storyline, the production would have qualified for absurd following the disjointed scenes. The use of a narrator at the introduction of each segment further helped in the understanding of the intrinsic message.

However, while the performance attempts to capture areas men have assaulted and abused women, the producer also balances the performance by highlighting various ways women have been architects of their own problems.

The Abuja performance also climaxed the three-continent tour, which kicked off in April at the renowned Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts and made a stop at Torp Theater – Central Connecticut State University, New Britain Connecticut, both in the USA before moving to the Frascati Theatre in Amsterdam.

Among the audience was the wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo. Commending the efforts of those that packaged the production, she noted that Nigeria is indeed a great, not only because of its landmark but also human resources that are imbued with great talents.

She was however alarmed by the rate of abuse of Nigeria women and girls. In her brief remarks, she urged the audience to go after the performance with a renewed zeal to join force towards protecting women and projecting the fact that women and girls are precious.

Other personalities at the event include the Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, Hakeem Bello-Osagie and his wife, Myma Bello-Osagie; Patron, Etisalat Prize for Literature, Dele Olojede, wife of the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Mrs. Gimbiya Yakubu Dogara and Former Vice President of World Bank, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili.

Speaking after the performance, Etisalat Nigeria’s Director, Brands and Experience; Elvis Ogiemwanye, stated that Hear Word captures in part, the company’s vision of creating and supporting platforms that empower people to discover themselves and reach their full potentials.

“We are an innovative and expressive company and are delighted to have pulled this through with the Hear Word team. “We share in the everyday experiences of our customers, and also seek for appropriate channels to create desirable experiences for them. We believe in providing people the opportunities to express themselves, be it in innovation, music, sports, literature, photography, theatre arts, education, entrepreneurship and any other way we can contribute to the development of the society”, he said.

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