July 19, 2024
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Kenneth Uphopho’s ‘Esther’s Revenge’ goes on UK 4-city tour, touches hearts

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  • July 6, 2024
  • 6 min read
Kenneth Uphopho’s ‘Esther’s Revenge’ goes on UK 4-city tour, touches hearts

It brings home a lot of history, a lot of the past, the horror, and hopefully it displays enough for people to think and stop future horrors, says UK viewer

This is real theatre with tremendous power and authenticity

By Godwin Okondo

THEATRE in the Mill, Bradford University will be among three other venues Mr. Kenneth Uphopho’s Esther’s Revenge, a SoHo Playhouse New York and Brighton Fringe 2023 international award-winning play, will be performed in the UK this summer to audiences in Scarborough, Leeds, London and Bradford. After an incredible run at the Scarborough Fringe, Esther’s Revenge is ready to captivate new audiences, and the production team has expressed its excitement as the play will be hosted in Leeds from July 9th, 10th, and 11th. Other cities Esther’s Revenge will grace include London, Scarborough and Leeds.

Step into a world where resilience meets justice in Esther’s Revenge, a gripping tale that has already left audiences spellbound. Set against the backdrop of colonial Lagos, this powerful story unfolds on stage at the Heart Centre on July 6 and Space 2 Leeds from July 9 – 11, 2024.

Written and directed by the visionary Uphopho and featuring the incredible Bola Stephen-Atitebi, Esther’s Revenge is an experience you don’t want to miss, as a testament to the power of live theatre, as Esther’s journey of courage and determination comes to life, promising an unforgettable theatrical experience.

And in Leeds, the Production Company, Pawstudios Africa, found a partnership with Leeds International African Arts Festival (LIAAF), where the play will make a long stop to entertain festival audiences.

A statement from the producer and director, Mr. Uphopho said, “We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with the Leeds International African Arts Festival (LIAAF)! This incredible festival is an initiative of @soaringwithdidi, a multi-artform celebration that highlights the rich diversity of African culture and creativity, showcasing contemporary innovators and emerging artists.

“As part of our creative exchange programme, our play, Esther’s Revenge, will be touring at LIAAF, bringing its powerful story to new audiences. This collaboration aligns beautifully with LIAAF’s mission to promote health and wellbeing, provide enriching learning experiences, and support the development of a diverse creative sector in Leeds. LIAAF is committed to fostering co-creation between African artists and the wider arts communities in Leeds and beyond. We are honoured to be a part of this vibrant festival happening at some of Leeds’ most iconic venues, including the Leeds Museum & Art Galleries, Leeds Trinity University, Chapel FM, and Hyde Park Picture House.

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Bola Stephen-Atitebi as Esther in Esther’s Revenge

“Thank you, LIAAF, for this wonderful opportunity to share our work and connect with a broader audience. We can’t wait to see the impact of this creative exchange and look forward to many more collaborations in the future. Join us in celebrating this exciting partnership and the beautiful fusion of cultures and creativity it brings!”

A cross segment of UK audiences that has seen the performance of Esther’s Revenge could not hide their excitement at the ingenuity of the production, as they urge those yet to see it to hurry before it leaves for Nigeria, where they will have to pay a fortune to see it.

UK audiences in various theatre venues where Esther’s Revenge has been staged have been excited about the sheer dramatic impact of the play. They could not hide their excitement at its power to elicit great emotions from viewers of all ages and nationality.

And so for a UK resident, Mr. Philips, it was fascinating talking to the writer Mr. Uphopho, who he chatted with, noting that Esther’s Revenge is “an incredibly powerful piece of theatre that is wonderfully acted, but also wonderfully written, a focused, brevity about it, such that within just a few minutes, we as audiences are catapulted into a very different world, a very different time, and a tremendously emotionally distressing dilemma. This is real theatre with tremendous power and authenticity, and I will recommend anybody to come and see it, with a warning that it’s painful, distressing, but also worth it.”

UK-based Adedola Bukky found out about the performance of Esther’s Revenge on a Nigerian WhasApp group and with someone’s recommendation and decided to see it. After the show she said, “It’s a beautiful experience, very intense and very well played by the actors; it’s a very lovely experience. It’s perfect.”

A Londoner and university student Jerry James saw the flyer on Instagram and decided to drag his mother, Nicol James, along to see Esther’s Revenge and were blown away by the sheer artistry of the performance. They believe it was a great decision to see the play, with Nicol enthusing, “The play was excellent; the drama, the depth, the feeling; she (actor Stephen-Atitebi) was very dynamic. It’s so good it drew you in. The story is quite harrowing, but it was brought to life, and no spoilers; you’ve got to go and see it!”

For Jerry, “It’s very captivating, from the get-go and very engaging. I like the way that it sort of gives the power to influence someone’s fate; it tells very powerful message, and I feel like it’s something that can resonate with people, and I recommend it for people to come and see it.”

A white couple Deborah Phils and Jon Shields believe it’s an excellent show, “thought-provoking and acting was excellent.” Another white couple the Dannys testified to the amazing theatrical work that Esther’s Revenge is, with the lady Jenny noting, “I was slightly terrified, but it was a great piece of theatre; we thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done!” she said she constantly had to look at her elderly male partner if he was alright while watching it. But her man wasn’t about to experience a fainting fit by watching the horror his colonial-day countryman inflicted on a hapless local woman, as noting the historic injustice and error the play throws up, “It brings home a lot of the history, a lot of the past, a lot of the horror, and hopefully it displays enough for people to think and stop the future horrors. Come see it, watch and listen,” said the man.

Written and directed by Uphopho, Esther’s Revenge is performed by Stephen-Atitebi, produced by Tope Sanni, with Tola Ibeh as production manager and Debbie Ohiri and Jasmine Adeniran as associate producers.

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