Dwon Ma Peke

(Silent Voices Acholi)

Play Synopsis

Silent Voices is a powerful poignant war crimes story that mirrors the views and emotions of actual victims of the Northern Uganda war (which do relate in many ways to the victims of the Rwanda genocide and the Kenyan’s post-election violence). It explores how victims have been ignored in the constant calls to “forgive” and “reconcile” at the expense of justice. Through the protagonist, (Mother – a symbolic representation of life and death) Silent Voices examines what good citizens can be driven into by unhealthy policies.

Play Inspiration and Journey

As an Acholi woman born and raised in the region, Silent Voices Playwright ADONG Lucy Judith was one of the young people who walked every evening to spend the night at the infamous Gulu bus park referenced in the viral “KONY 2012” video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc). Adong attended the high school from which 44 girls were abducted by Joseph Kony and his LRA rebels in 1991 (Sacred Heart Girls Boarding School in Gulu). These horrifying events are deeply personal to her, and yet she was fortunate: due to miracle of a chance, she was able to leave war-ravaged Gulu for college and thereafter work in Kampala. As a result, she knew only the feeling of terror, but was not aware of the bitterness, betrayal and injustice that so many Acholi survivors feel towards local and national government leaders.

In 2006 Adong returned to Gulu and began to interview the men, women and children who survived Kony’s reign of terror. She visited rehabilitation centers for child soldiers in Gulu to study how theater was being used in the psychosocial therapy of the children who filled the ranks of Kony’s army, one of the largest child armies in human history. She also listened to the anger and frustration expressed by victims about the Amnesty Act, which they felt ‘rewarded’ perpetrators for confessing to often heinous crimes. So rather than write a research thesis that would gather dust on the shelves of Makerere University Library, she felt so strongly that these stories – these war-weary yet defiant voices – needed to be heard and witnessed by the world. This is why she wrote Silent Voices. The title isn’t a reference to the people of Northern Uganda, whose voices are powerful, raw and stunning. Rather, it speaks to the repressive silencing these victims feel that their government is forcing on them in the name of forgiveness.”

 

Developed at the Sundance Theater Lab 2010, Silent Voices had its world premiere at the National Theater of Uganda in 2012 funded by STICHTING DOEN (DOEN FOUNDATION). This production brought victims, political, religious and cultural leaders, members of the Amnesty Commission and transitional justice leaders together for critical, transformative conversations about the compensation of victims and the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill. For many in the Kampala audience, the atrocities in Gulu were unfamiliar and shocking. It was stunning to realize that so many in southern Uganda were oblivious to the horrors taking place in the north. The performance was a huge critical success, playing to sold-out audiences.

In 2010 while looking for funding to produce Silent Voices, besides proposing an East African tour of the play due to similar post-conflict challenges the region faces, we also proposed the possibility of an Acholi Voice Over of the video of the play to be shared with the people of Northern Uganda where the stories of the play came from. This was due to budget implication of having to produce the play in Luo Language for it to be able to tour Northern Uganda.

While the performance was a huge critical success, playing to sold-out audiences, few victims had the opportunity to view the play or contribute to this discussion. Unfortunately, we had doubts about the video quality recorded from the 2012 Premiere of the play at Uganda National Theatre.

 

In 2013, we were excited to hear from DOEN Foundation that following the raving accolades the English Production of the play received, they would be open to consider our earlier vision of producing the play in Northern Uganda in Luo Language. So we started to work towards this vision bringing on board Bridgit, a renowned American producer and artivist, who the playwright, Adong Lucy Judith had met in 2011 during the public reading of her play, Just Me, You and THE SILENCE at The New Black Fest.

We envisioned the production of Luo translation of the play as well as a re-run of the English production that only needed a refresher rehearsals. We therefore put together a double production proposal and were pleasant surprised and exited when The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust came aboard joining DOEN Foundation.  

August to October of 2015, Dwon Ma Peke (Silent Voices Acholi Production) Premiered in Gulu to powerful reviews and toured Kitgum, Lira and Kampala where it run back-to-back with the English Production of the play at Uganda National Theatre, making it the first experience of a kind.

This was a true dream come true story! But most powerful of all was the healing opportunity the production provided the people of Northern Uganda. “This isn’t just the work of your hands. This is a calling from God to tell the story of the plight of Acholi people”, renowned Acholi Musician Labongo during a panel discussion about the role of artists in society. It was described as the best recorded history of the Northern Uganda war by far.

As an Acholi woman born and raised in the region, Silent Voices Playwright ADONG Lucy Judith was one of the young people who walked every evening to spend the night at the infamous Gulu bus park referenced in the viral “KONY 2012” video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc). Adong attended the high school from which 44 girls were abducted by Joseph Kony and his LRA rebels in 1991 (Sacred Heart Girls Boarding School in Gulu). These horrifying events are deeply personal to her, and yet she was fortunate: due to miracle of a chance, she was able to leave war-ravaged Gulu for college and thereafter work in Kampala. As a result, she knew only the feeling of terror, but was not aware of the bitterness, betrayal and injustice that so many Acholi survivors feel towards local and national government leaders.

 

In 2006 Adong returned to Gulu and began to interview the men, women and children who survived Kony’s reign of terror. She visited rehabilitation centers for child soldiers in Gulu to study how theater was being used in the psychosocial therapy of the children who filled the ranks of Kony’s army, one of the largest child armies in human history. She also listened to the anger and frustration expressed by victims about the Amnesty Act, which they felt ‘rewarded’ perpetrators for confessing to often heinous crimes. So rather than write a research thesis that would gather dust on the shelves of Makerere University Library, she felt so strongly that these stories – these war-weary yet defiant voices – needed to be heard and witnessed by the world. This is why she wrote Silent Voices. The title isn’t a reference to the people of Northern Uganda, whose voices are powerful, raw and stunning. Rather, it speaks to the repressive silencing these victims feel that their government is forcing on them in the name of forgiveness.”

 

Developed at the Sundance Theater Lab 2010, Silent Voices had its world premiere at the National Theater of Uganda in 2012 funded by STICHTING DOEN (DOEN FOUNDATION). This production brought victims, political, religious and cultural leaders, members of the Amnesty Commission and transitional justice leaders together for critical, transformative conversations about the compensation of victims and the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill. For many in the Kampala audience, the atrocities in Gulu were unfamiliar and shocking. It was stunning to realize that so many in southern Uganda were oblivious to the horrors taking place in the north. The performance was a huge critical success, playing to sold-out audiences.

Creative Team

ADONG Lucy Judith

 

Director, Playwright & Producer

SSEBAGGALA Andrew Jedidiah

Co-Producer

Apprentices

Cast

ACHIRO P. Orwoch
as Stage Manager Apprentice
RWOTOMARA Martin
as Sound Design Apprentice
ATIM Sarah
as Set, Props, Costumes, Apprentice
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OOR Beatrice
as Mother
ODONG Denis
as Guard 1 / Man
OKOYA Mourris
as Guard 2 / Boss
AGETTA Francis
as CID / Mediator / LC5 / Judge
OLOYA Julius
Juma/ Journalist/ MP / Court Clerk
OJOP Jackson
as Husband
ANENA Monica
as Wife / Prosecutor
ALIMOCAN Jenate
as Magret
AMONE Patrick
as Omony
OPIYO Charles Savimbi
as Bishop / Mother's Lawyer
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RUBANGAKENE Deogracious
as Boy 1 aka Commander Man / Boy 4
COO-PE Calvin
as Kadogo Ninja / Boy 5
OYAT Emmanuel
Kadogo Action and Kadogo Smiles
AKELLO Peace
as Girl 1 / Commander Danger Hatari's Wife
AKERA Joshua
as Boy 2 /Kadogo NoJoke
AUMA Harriet
as Girl 2
GUM Perry Prisca
as Fiona
APWOYOCAN Inocent
as Girl 3 / Scovia
APWOYOCAN Sandra
as Brenda / Girl 4 / Commander Danger Hatari's Wife
AKENA Caesar
as Boy 3 aka Commander Danger Hatari / Child Abductee
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AOL Prossy Lagum
as Dancer / Boss' Political Dignitory / Woman
LAKOT Eden
as Dancer / Amal
AKECH Sarah
as Dancer / Brider
ADOCH NANCY
as Dancer / Waitress / Soldier 3
ODONG Mourris
as Dancer/ Man's Political Dignitary / Groom
AKENA Godfrey
as Dancer / Neutral Political Dignitary / Man 2
RUBANGAKENE Geofrey
Dancer / Soldier 5
OLARA Ronald
as Dancer / Soldier 2 / Man 1
OPIYO Mark Lalur
as Dancer / Waiter /Soldier 4
OJOK Richard Boilingson
as Dancer / Latigo
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Crew

KAYA Kajimu
Stage Manager
AYO Jimmy
Music Director
ABONGA Christopher
Instrumentalist
IBANDA Grace Flavia
as Dance Choreographer
WAWUYO Michael
Set, Props, Costumes, Hair and Make-Up Designer
APIO Stella
Ass. Costume Tailor
OKELLO Anthony
Backdrop Projection
SENKUMBA Adnan
Sound Designer
MUGARURA Abraham
Cinematographer / Editor
ODONGPINY Richard
Production Assistant
OCHEN Geofrey
as Kiswahiri Language Coach
AKELLO Gloria
Production Manager
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Press & News

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COO-PE Calvin

as Kadogo Ninja / Boy 5