BY MORGAN BROWN
As part of the annual tradition of Ethnic Nights put on by many International Student Life (ISL) organizations, the African Student Union’s (ASU) Africa Night will be taking place February 20th and 21st in Morton Theater. This year’s Africa Night will be a play entitled “Just a Woman.”
“Just a Woman,” directed by ASU cultural secretary Sena Ahiayibor, is a comedic drama set in the fictional, ambiguous village of Bantuba. The play centers around the protagonist Malaika Jimo, who is receiving pressure from family and peers to find a husband despite her wishes to remain independent and focus on her increasingly successful career.
“Even though the previous plays were also great and successful, I’m particularly excited about this play because we’ve never done one like this before,” said Ijeoma Okoye, president of the ASU and a producer of this year’s Africa Night production.
While earlier years’ plays were highly entertaining, this year’s production is much more “dynamic” in that it is much less steeped-in traditional romantic themes than the more “lovey-dovey stories” of previous years, according to Okoye.
Using this focus, “Just a Woman,” incorporates the evolution of African cultures into the modern age with a discussion of old versus new ideals, particularly for women. This is also a way that the ASU has sought to make the play relatable to anyone’s culture.
Structurally, “Just a Woman,” is still similar to Africa Night productions of years past. In order to rise to the challenge of being as inclusive as possible of the many various African cultures in one night, the production is also a variety show of sorts, despite mainly being a play. Within the framework of the play, there are five dance numbers as well as a fashion show scene, in which both tradition and modern aspects are included.
“For instance, there’s a nightclub scene in which the dancing is more modern, but there’s also a more traditional dance,” explained Okoye.
Tickets for Africa Night can be bought either online (here) or at the Tate Center Ticket Office. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show, however there is a discount through which UGA students can get Friday night tickets for $7.
ASU began preparation in September, which is when director Ahiayibor, Okoye and co-producers Dami Sailu, Samira Issa-Boube, Mark Abere and Audrey Udemba began scriptwriting. Auditions and practicing began in October.
For the preparation process, leadership positions are delegated into one director, five producers, four dance coordinators, and three fashion coordinators for the fashion show. However, the ASU has attempted to include all interested ASU members’ contributions, particularly for the continued success of future shows and also so that many African cultures are equally represented.
“Like for me, I’m Nigerian,” said Okoye, “so I wouldn’t want the play to only reflect those kinds of [colloquialisms] and not others.”
It takes as many willing, qualified hands as possible for a production for this magnitude. While all of ASU contributes, the main cast consists of 16 members. However, there are also 20 fashion-show models and 40-50 dancers.