This summer, an ensemble of graduate and undergraduate students in the UMass Theater Department plans to travel to South Africa to present Jackie Sibblies-Drury’s powerful play, We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, from the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915.
We Are Proud... is both humorous and haunting, and centers around a group of actors attempting to dramatize the first genocide of the 20th century. As they wrestle with issues of racial representation, they encounter their own biases and limitations and realize that the issues in their play hit very close to home. In the same way, the production speaks to contemporary racial discourse that is happening on the UMass campus, in communities and across campuses nationwide, and even across the world. We are grateful to be working on an artistic project that invites productive dialogue about these concerns and we are proud to represent UMass as we engage this dialogue on an international level in South Africa.
Our journey began in the fall, when we first mounted our production in a small space in the Department of Theater. We performed to sold-out audiences and were inspired by transformational talkback sessions after each show. Due to the show's success, our ensemble was invited to re-mount the production for a 3-week performance run at UMass in February and invited to tour our show to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa, in July of 2016.
The Grahamstown festival is the largest arts festival in the southern hemisphere and the second largest theater festival in the world (second only to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival). We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to share our work with an international audience and to learn more about the culture and history of South Africa. We look forward to continuing the dialogues we began at UMass with our international counterparts.
We are requesting your support in funding the airfare ($1299 per student) to South Africa for the 11 students who are part of our cast and production team. We are working to solicit support from our University administration to help with further production costs, yet we still anticipate shortfall for this large undertaking. Please consider supporting our work in creating theater for social transformation.