Three Women (Break the Silence)

Members of "Three Women (Break the Silence)", a Play by Dr. Omotayo Jolaosho; Copyright: Madoda Mkhobeni

Cast of "Three Women (Break the Silence)", a play by Dr. Omotayo Jolaosho. Copyright: Madoda Mkhobeni

SIGS faculty member, Omotayo Jolaosho, presented a staged reading of her ethnographic play, Three Women (Break The Silence), in South Africa at Johannesburg’s historic Market Theatre Laboratory in June 2018. A theatrical performance augmented by collective song, Three Women examines distinct experiences of vulnerability within activist collectives through the lives of members of Remmoho (a women’s group established within Johannesburg’s Anti-Privatisation Forum – APF). Three Women is a work of documentary and verbatim theatre that takes its shape from freedom songs, field notes, and interviews conducted by Dr. Jolaosho, who worked with the APF in 2009 and 2010. In collaboration with director Vernice Miller (John Jay College of Criminal Justice), artists of Market Theatre Lab made up the play’s very vocal ensemble. Together, its performers address what it means to find one’s voice amidst gendered repression and urge us to “break the silence” regarding women’s bodily and sexual autonomy.

 The play’s attention to these themes is all the more significant given the current and highly polarized political debates and public discourse on issues of consent and sexual autonomy in South Africa, the United States, and more globally. Three Women (Break The Silence), as a work of theatre, highlights women’s experiences and raises such issues in a non-didactic way, seeking to open audiences to further dialogue and shared inquiry. Dr. Jolaosho is pursuing further collaboration to bring the play to audiences in South Africa’s major cities in 2019.

To learn more about Remmoho, the women’s group whose members inspired Three Women, check out Dr. Jolaosho’s blog post.