HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True
A.R.T. Season
January 26 - February 11, 2018
"There is pain onstage, sure, but there's also an inspiring, life-affirming joy that makes Hear Word! a fascinating, effervescent tour de force that feeds the soul....Fafunwa's production crackles with both a lust for life and a defiance that is utterly stirring. Much of this is owed to the fearless, unforgettable 10 actors whose performances brim with rare authenticity and flawless candor. This is the finest ensemble of actors assembled on the Boston stage in the last several years."
Christopher Ehlers, TheaterMania

Directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa

Featuring a cast of leading Nigerian actresses (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), HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True is inspired by multi-generational stories of inequality and transformation. Staged by director and writer Ifeoma Fafunwa, the show grapples with the issues affecting the lives of women across Nigeria, and the factors that limit their potential for independence, leadership, and meaningful contribution in society. Combining song and dance with intimate portraits of resilience and resistance, the show celebrates the women who have broken the culture of silence, challenged the status quo, and moved beyond barriers to achieve solutions. The critically-acclaimed production of HEAR WORD! returns to the A.R.T. after its US premiere in a limited run last season. 

Creative team
Director Ifeoma Fafunwa
Costume Design Ituen Basi
Lighting Design Aja M. Jackson
Sound Design Drew Levy
Projection Design Johnathan Carr
Production Stage Manager Taylor Brennan
Cast
Ensemble Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Joke Silva, Bimbo Akintola, Omonor, Elvina Ibru, Ufuoma McDermott, Zara Udofia-Ejoh, Rita Edward, Odenike, Deborah Ohiri
Band
Percussion Blessing Idireri A.K.A Kacoman, Emeka Anokwuru A.K.A. Make Beat, Ebisidor Asiyai
Additional staff
Assistant Stage Manager Kathryn Hausler
Assistant Lighting Designer

Zach Molin

Assistant Sound Designer

Brendan F Doyle

Movement

Zara Udofia-Ejoh, Qudus Onikeku, Ifeoma Fafunwa, Justin Ezerim

Video Programmer Jeremy Goldenberg
A.R.T. Institute Production Dramaturg

Rebecca Curran

Production Assistants

Susan Udo, Julius Wade (Harvard University Arts and Museum Fellow, supported by the Harvard University Office of Career Services)

It is an expression of pure, justifiable rage and a call to arms from half a world away: HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True is viscerally alive onstage at the American Repertory Theater and will shake you into action. More

Using the power of spoken word and personal accounts of hardships, Nigerian women shed light on the truth of the daily struggles women face. More

What makes this show so cohesive is not only its powerful feminist message, but also its ability to balance comedy and tragedy as it transports its audience through vivid and often painful to watch scenes. More

The 100 minutes of this show contain a gamut of essential tales and testimonies that tear at heart and conscience but leave you cheering for the better angels of the human soul. More

Living in a society where men hold all the cards, the women have to constantly fight to protect their bodies, their dignity and their right to be who they are. If that weren’t enough, relationships with their own sex, including mothers and mothers-in-laws, tend to be judgmental and without compassion. Which is why the piece is so powerful – it is compassionate, and compassion, when in short supply, doesn’t come easy. More

A remarkable cast of Nigerian actresses pierce the heart in Hear Word! Naija Woman Talk True More

As they recount and enact story after story of women who have been on the receiving end of male entitlement, aggression, and abuse, “Hear Word!’’ inexorably adds up to a damning portrait of toxic masculinity — and, ultimately, a call for female solidarity and empowerment. More

"It takes you right into the heart of abuse," says Jared, "but you leave the theater armed with awareness and action." More

“I want the audience to draw parallels to how patriarchy manifests itself in Africa and how it manifests itself in the rest of the world,” says Fafunwa, who is currently the Mary I. Bunting Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute. “It is an olive branch, a bridge across cultures.” More

HEAR WORD!, brought to the area by the American Repertory Theater, stands on the edge of change yet to come, and calls for its arrival. “The idea was to encourage women to be the drivers for change, for equality, rather than wait for institutions or men or government,” says Ifeoma Fafunwa, the show's writer and director. “For women to ask themselves where are they responsible for inequality, and where are they able to empower, to be powerful.” More

Pages

Press Releases

Written and directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa and featuring a cast of leading actresses from the Nigerian stage and screen, the production will begin performances on Friday, January 26, and continue through Sunday, February 11, 2018 at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, in Cambridge.
American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University, under the leadership of Artistic Director Diane Paulus and Executive Producer Diane Borger, announces dates of accessible programming in the 2017/18 Season. American Sign Language (ASL)-interpreted, open-captioned, audio-described, and sensory-friendly performances will be offered.
The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University is pleased to announce its 2017/18 Season including Burn All Night, WARHOLCAPOTE, Sense and Sensibility, HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True, The White Card, and Jagged Little Pill.

See a full schedule of Act II conversations that will follow a number of performances.

 

Visit our Toolkit Library to access the HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True Toolkit for information, articles, and activities about the show.

 

Check these local and international organizations if you were inspired to learn more about and/or become involved in addressing the issues raised by the play.

 

Read a New York Times article about the origins of Pidgin English, a language sometimes used in this performance.

 

Come Close and Listen
Director Ifeoma Fafunwa reflects on her inspiration for, and the creative process of, the show.

 

When HEAR WORD! Came to Harvard—Finally
by Biodun Jeyifo

 

Read the program for this production.

 

Read more in the A.R.T. Guide about HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True and other upcoming productions.

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Ticket prices

Tickets from $25. A limited number of standing room tickets may be sold in person for select sold-out performances beginning at 12 noon the day of the show. There is no guarantee that standing room tickets will be available.

Run time

100 minutes with no intermission.

Venue

64 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

High-res image:
High-res image:
Venue Map

Need to know

This production contains graphic descriptions of sexual abuse and violence that some audience members may find distressing.

 

The A.R.T. salutes individuals of all gender identities who have the courage to speak out and break barriers of silence and fear. If you are looking for support surrounding experiences of sexual assault, harassment, or domestic violence, these local organizations are a great place to seek resources and community. 

Age Appropriateness

Recommended for grades 9+

Audio Described

Feb. 9 at 7:30PM & Feb. 11 at 2PM

Open Captioned Logo Open Captioned

Feb. 8 at 7:30PM & Feb. 11 at 2PM


Purchase your tickets for our OC or AD performances via phone at 617.547.8300, in person, or by email at ticketservices@amrep.org.

Access

Accessibilty
Assistive Listening Devices
Large Print Programs

Act II conversations will follow a number of performances. For a full schedule of discussions, please visit this page.