As the debate begins taking shape at The Hague, with a possibility of trying former Lord Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander, Dominic Ongwen, in Uganda, playwright and filmmaker Judith Lucy Adong is kick-starting month-long rehearsals for her play titled ‘Silent Voices’.
The play voices the plight of women and children that were affected by the war in Northern Uganda, but were not quite heard. Adong who has been away on a study sabbatical, for her masters’ degree in film and directing, says the play is going to be presented in two languages, Acholi and English. Its premiere will be in Gulu on September 18. They will be two more shows, on Saturday 19 and Sunday in Kitgum and Lira.
It is the second phase of staging the play, having been originally presented at Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC), commonly known as National Theatre, in 2002.
The play’s co-producer, Andrew Ssebaggala says that they have out together a cast of about 100 people that will act in the duo-language play.
“We will have it in Acholi and English but at the climax, we will merge the cast of both languages when we come to National Theatre,” he explains.
“In the play we show the terror experienced by countless victims of the 20-year conflict in Northern Uganda, including thousands of children, youth and women. It therefore explores how victims have been ignored in the constant calls to “forgive” and “reconcile” at the expense of justice,” she explains.
Through the protagonist- a mother, who is used as a symbolic figure of life and death, Silent Voices examines what good citizens can be driven into by unhealthy policies.
It further explores the divide between forgiveness and justice and provides psychosocial support to the war victims for it opens the door for victims to come out and express their feelings as well as provoke debate on issues raised in the play that will go a long way in providing therapy for the victims.
The playwright uses the play to make her input in regards to the on-going National Reconciliation Bill as well as advocate for peace and justice in Northern Uganda and indeed for other parts in Uganda and the entire world using art and culture. She adds, “We believe these are aspirations and values that many believe in and associate with.”