“You don’t ask the pastor questions!” was a reprimand Andrew Ssebaggala confessed to having got from colleagues following a meeting during which he had asked a pastor some questions.
The reaction attests to how much power pastors or religious leaders wield, which in itself is not bad if put to good leadership. This is the premise upon which a new play titled Ga-AD is built.
Ssebaggala is one of the producers of the play, a powerful satirical play where poetry reinforces the messages and poignant emotions of the characters’ life stories.
The theatrical piece of work revolves around a character named Faith. She is a casualty of a gruesome road accident in messy Kampala. Her spirit leaves its battered body, but her memories of life linger on raw and painful.
She has met her maker and faces a terrifying judgment but there is no resemblance to the Kingdom of God or the fires of hell as we read about in holy books.
This brings many questions to her mind. What judgment awaits her? To get the answers she still craves, Faith must not only understand where she is but also where she has come from.
In effect, the play shakes the roots of our beliefs, looks at the place of women in churches, examines the question of spiritual manipulation and as well as human existence.
Contextually, the play also examines some events such as the recent case of Pastor Yiga Augustine, aka Abizayo, who was dragged to court over child neglect.
The play furthers the debate on the honesty of some religious leaders and defies our blind obedience to religious leaders, who are never put to task over abuses rampant in their churches.
The play is co-written by Adong Lucy Judith, playwright for Silent Voices and Nambozo Beverley Nsengiyunva, a renowned poet. The play is produced under the flagship of ‘Silent Voices Uganda’, a not-for-profit performing arts organisation whose main goal is to promote the performing arts.
It has received two powerful public readings, one at the National Black Theatre in New York as part of the ‘Keep Soul Alive’ festival (2013) and the second at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill as part of the theatre students of Women in Theater final project (2014).
Both these public readings have helped support the play’s development with feedback from live audiences and dramaturgy workshop that have enriched the play immensely making it ready for production.
“The Church in general and particularly the Pentecostal church is growing and this is partly because we are a very young population and the youth, being largely unemployed, seek solace in the church. Therefore, critical discussions on the church and its influences are essential in order to create and build critical awareness of this challenge in the bud,” Ssebaggala explains.
He observes that the Pentecostal church is an important part of our country’s leadership and its structures must be conscious of its gender disparities. The louder message in the play is that the Pentecostal church needs to work as an ally to all people and not just to those they consider righteous or prosperous.
It needs to positively embrace all human rights and effectively erase its hypocritical nature. The play will premiere next Saturday at Uganda National Cultural Centre or National Theatre as it is commonly known and will show throughout the weekend.
If you go
The deal. Play exposing hypocrisy among leaders.
Where. National Theatre.
When. This weekend
Cast. Michael Wawuyo, Isaac Kudzu, , Gladys Oyenbot, Marion Asilo, Sharon Atuhaire River Dan Rugaju, Robert Ernest Bbumba, Michael Sseggujja,