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LECTURE DES TEXTES DRAMATIQUE

Dr. George B. Seremba

George Bwanika, Seremba was born in Kampala, Uganda. It is there, too, at Makerere University, that he did his primary degree. In December 1980, Seremba was abducted, interrogated, and sentenced to death at the hands of Milton Obote’s Military Intelligence. Having barely survived the botched execution, he eventually fled to Kenya where he began his forced exile before resettling in Canada.

There he worked as an actor and a playwright. Most audiences remember him for his performances in Athol Fugard’s The Blood knot (PTE: Winnipeg) and a number of other plays  including in his own, autobiographical play, Come Good Rain for which he won a Dora award (outstanding new play: 1993). George also holds an M. Phil, degree; as well as a Ph.D., in Theatre Studies, from Trinity College Dublin. His thesis (Robert Serumaga and the Golden Age of Uganda’s Theatre; Solipsism, Activism, Innovation) ─ he has since turned into a monograph ─ and is currently looking for a suitable publisher. Most recently he has lectured at Case Western (Cleveland, Ohio) and at Brown University, where he was an IWP Fellow for two years.

Come Good Rain is Seremba’s 2nd full-length play, and certainly most successful one, to date. It has, in fact, been produced and performed by the author, in Canada, USA, UK, Israel, and Ireland. At the last count he had performed it over 300 times since the earliest performances in Toronto. His other plays include Secrets of the Savannah (2007), a radio play he wrote for Irish Radio (R.T.E); and Mama’s George (2008), as well as a longer play: Napoleon of the Nile. After almost 5 years of work he recently completed his memoir (in two volumes): Wanton Boys and The Sunbird Sings Again.

‘Out of Africa’:

George Seremba reads from

Come Good Rain and Napoleon of the Nile

Come Good Rain is certainly the most successful of Seremba’s plays, to date. It has ─ in fact ─ been produced and performed by the author in Canada, USA, UK, Israel, and Ireland. At the last count he had performed it over 300 times since the earliest performances in Toronto. His other plays include Secrets of the Savannah (2007), a radio play he wrote for Irish Radio (R.T.E); and Mama’s George (2008), as well as a longer play: Napoleon of the Nile. After almost 5 years of writing he recently completed his memoir in two volumes: Wanton Boys and The Sunbird Sings Again.

Come Good Rain is an autobiographical play about political activism, the protagonist’s capture, interrogation, torture ─ a death sentence, followed by a botched execution, survival and narrow escape has been performed in Canada (including Ottawa’s G.C.T.C.), the United States ─ to the UK, Israel, and Ireland ─ North and South.

His third full-length play: Napoleon of the Nile has not had its World premiere yet, but was workshopped extensively over the years. The very final stage of that phase was at Brown University where Dr. Seremba held the IWP Fellowship for two years (2013-2015). The World premiere of it will likely be in Toronto in the fall of 2019.

On a makeshift stage in a Kenyan refugee camp, three people begin an arduous journey – over 1,000 kilometers, and close to 10 months long.  They are gunned down and bombed by the government troops, the militia and even their very own. The rhythm of life is one of drought and famine – set against a backdrop of unending civil war. Ultimately Napoleon of the Nile is a re-enactment of an odyssey about survival against all odds.  For the lucky few who manage to survive the exodus Africa’s long unending nightmare, they soon discover, does not end with the crossing of a border.

The readings from the two plays will last 20 minutes each.

They will be followed by a Q&A

Post-Reading Session

Language, Writing, Exile: A Post-Colonial Perspective

Given the African, post-colonial perspective this discussion is probably best served by providing a frame and ─ a context that may be useful in this discussion of language, writing and exile. In August 1962 an auspicious event took place on Ugandan soil. It was held at Makerere University, Kampala when it was still a constituent college of the University of London. Makerere marked the very first gathering of African writers (of English Expression). A lot transpired at that meeting. Some of it may have sounded rather contentious but certainly worthy of note, particularly as it pertains to a number of the ways in which African literature was to be characterized, defined, and read; ways that obviously have a significant bearing on questions such as language, writing/literature and exile.  The designation of the writers who had converged at Makerere as writers “of English Expression”, its self provides a clue to at least one of the various schisms that emerged at the conference. These schisms were to reverberate through the engaging and raging debates that were to follow, long after the event. That designation referred to heretofore, revealed to a degree how contentious the issue of language was to some and it soon turned into a burning, polarizing issue.

In a cruel twist of irony, soon after the acquisition of political Independence, oppressive colonial laws were resurrected and used even more ubiquitously. Censorship, lengthy incarcerations without trial, pogroms, and even war as well as banishment into exile; soon became the order of the day over much of Africa. The cleavage over language had also turned into a full-fledged binary. These issues ought to be taken on board for a deeper, more informative discussion of the topic at hand.

CETTE SESSION EST SOUTENUE PAR PLAYWRIGHTS

GUILD, CANADA