Ifeoma Fafunwa is the founder and creative director of iOpenEye, a Nigerian production company driving social change through performance art. She recently produced the popular stage play HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True, a collection of monologues based on true-life stories of Nigerian women, aimed at challenging social, cultural, and political norms that limit the potential and contribution of women.
During her fellowship at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Fafunwa is working on a socially transformative stage play that explores and seeks solutions to the extremely homophobic environment that is Nigeria today. Utilizing theatre informed by research of current laws, cultural norms, and true stories from the Nigerian LGBT community, she is exploring the roles that women and religion have played in the systemic propagation of this culture of intolerance. By highlighting the many roles and relationships of Nigerian women, Fafunwa aims to portray the unique power women possess in acting as societal change makers.
Fafunwa directed one of Nigeria’s cultural submissions for the London 2012 Olympics, and her work has been featured at LIFT, London’s festival for new forms of theater. In 2016, HEAR WORD! premiered internationally in Cambridge with support from Harvard University and the American Repertory Theatre, and then was staged at the Frascati theatre in Amsterdam. Fafunwa has been a visiting scholar at the Radcliffe Institute and is a fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She runs a pro bono performance art workshop building capacity for young female artists and university students in Nigeria.
HEAR WORD! Naija Women Talk True, a celebration of Nigerian women who have broken the culture of silence and challenged the status quo. Written and directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa and featuring a cast of leading actresses from the Nigerian stage and screen.
HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True is inspired by multi-generational stories of inequality and transformation. The piece is directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa, the founder and director of iOpenEye, a Nigerian production company driving social change through performance art.
Combining song and dance with intimate portraits of resilience and resistance, HEAR WORD! grapples with the issues that affect the lives of women across Nigeria—the factors that limit their potential for independence, leadership, and meaningful contribution in society, and the ways they have moved beyond established barriers to achieve meaningful solutions. HEAR WORD! is recommended for audiences aged fourteen and up due to its themes and content.
“‘Hear word’ is Nigerian Pidgin for ‘listen and comply,’” explains Fafunwa. “Nigerians use it as a warning or threat to women or children. With this show, I want to flip the script to say, ‘Listen and learn from what women have to say,’ because if we continue with the way things are going, we will surely never progress.”
The HEAR WORD! cast features acclaimed international actors and stars of Nollywood (one of the top three film industries in the world): Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Joke Silva, Bimbo Akintola, Ufuoma McDermott, Elvina Ibru, Omonor, Zara Udofia-Ejoh, Rita Edward, Debbie Ohiri, and Odenike, as well as drummers Emeka Christian Anokwuru, Frank Ebisidor Asiyai, and Blessing Akpofure Idireri.
Capacity: 100-500 Seats
Traveling Personnel: 15 people on tour: 10 performers, 3 percussionists, 1 director, and a Technical Director.
Running time: 90 minutes without intermission
Freight: Props, costumes, and intruments