Mojisola Adebayo, I Stand Corrected

Published: Monday, November 5, 2012 15:15 | Interview by Sophia A Jackson
Mojisola Adebayo Mojisola Adebayo

I Stand Corrected is a new collaboration between critically acclaimed British-Nigerian playwright Mojisola Adebayo and Standard Bank award-winning South African dancer and choreographer, Mamela Nyamza.

In 2009 Mojisola and Mamela were introduced to each other by Jean September from the British Council. They found that they had much in common and that they were both concerned by the issue of homophobia, affecting South Africa and Britain, in different but no less significant ways. Although their creative work is expressed in distinct forms, Mojisola through theatre and Mamela in dance, they wanted to speak through these performance languages and challenge audiences and themselves by raising social issues in unexpected surprising ways.


Explain why your latest play is called I Stand Corrected?

We were fascinated by the idea of correction – there have been incidents of corrective rape in South Africa mainly of black lesbian women to make them straight. The defense of rapists is that they are making them real women. We were interested in the idea of this bizarre, crude logic that you can make a woman into something you want her to be by raping her. There has been a lot of work that has challenged this idea. So rather than going against the idea we are asking what do you mean by the logic to correct somebody? Let’s take your logic to the fullest extent and explore who this corrected woman could be.


I have never been in a performance where there was so much laughter and tears. It’s been powerful and I’m intrigued to see what the response will be like in the UK.

I Stand Corrected premiered in South Africa in August. How was it received?

Hand on my heart and without spin – it was really moving and powerful. I have never been in a performance where there was so much laughter and tears. Neither have I ever made a show were people have sobbed and sung – it’s been powerful and I’m intrigued to see what the response will be like in the UK. In South Africa a lot of women from those communities who had been raped came to see the show. Those women are also singing in the show.


What have been the challenges in putting on a production that tackles such a sensitive subject matter as corrective rape?

We had to find a human way of talking about it and humour. We were inspired by Frankenstein’s monster and we don’t look at the rape through her body but explore femininity and masculinity. There is also humour in the comfortableness a wedding going wrong.


I Stand Corrected by Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza I Stand Corrected by Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza

What’s it like working with Mamela Nyamza; recently named by Oprah Magazine as one of the top 25 women in the world.

Mamela is the co-creator and her focus is on movement and choreography. She is from South Africa so was able to offer a great deal of understanding from her own experiences and background. I’m more of the text and theatre side.


This play is a beautiful memorial and has all the pain and joyful celebration of a memorial. It’s the most humbling thing I’ve ever done because it makes you bow your head and take a moment.

What do you think you will take away from this experience?

The production has taught me that art has a valid place in protest by not telling people what to think or by using propaganda. It has a place in encouraging people in taking note of what they don’t like in the world. South Africa has a brilliant background in performance, theatre and film through resisting Apartheid. Through theatre speak of issues that effect peoples lives and it’s very humbling.


You are of Nigerian/Danish heritage how have either backgrounds influenced who you are today?

I think my Nigerian heritage has made me bold and given me a sense of humour and community - looking after one another so we don’t live in isolation. My Danish heritage has given me openness around things about sex. The Danes and Scandinavians are pretty open minded and liberal about sex, gender and sexuality - so my openness about personal choices which is very different to my Nigerian background.


I Stand Corrected     by Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza I Stand Corrected by Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza

Your work is concerned with power, identity, personal and social change – what theatre production has had the biggest impact on your life so far?

‘I Stand Corrected’ most definitely because it has been life changing as I’ve never made a show where the play is dedicated to women. It’s dedicated to the 30 plus women who were murdered. We feel their presence and it’s a real feeling. This play is a beautiful memorial and has all the pain and joyful celebration of a memorial. It’s the most humbling thing I’ve ever done because it makes you bow your head and take a moment. Also, ‘48 minutes for Palestine – a powerful, political play without words.


You are co-founder and mentor of Shout! – London’s first LGBTQI theatre specifically for young people from black, Asian and refugee ethnic minority backgrounds. Tell us a bit more about this.

I was the co-founder of a gay/lesbian youth club years ago. I loved supporting young people and always felt we need something specifically for young black and Asian people due to the extra challenges we face. Sheine Alexander came through Ovalhouse through their young leadership programme and wanted to do this project. I feel a bit past it as I’m 41, but I supported her and we are going to get funding. We are going to keep going and get funding. Ovalhouse website. More info on the Ovalhouse website.


Mojisola Adebayo, I Stand Corrected Mojisola Adebayo, I Stand Corrected
I Stand    Corrected   by Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza I Stand Corrected by Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza

What’s next for you after I Stand Corrected?

Hopefully, brining ‘48 Minutes of Palestine’ to London and touring. We got funding to bring the show over in March. I’ve also written a children’s play called ‘Asara and the Sea Monstrous’. It’s about a family set in a fictional West African kingdom and for ages 6+ as the story is told through the metaphor a left-handed girl living in a right-handed world. It’s part of my series of plays about understanding black homophobia.


Christmas and New Year are just around the corner. What are your tips for surviving the festive season and your aspirations for 2013?

Christmas – don’t’ forget who you are if you don’t like turkey but love fish pie then have fish pie. Aspiration: to be the best lover, ever! I just met somebody. [Laughs]


I Stand Corrected   by Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza I Stand Corrected by Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza


Info: I Stand Corrected is at the Ovalhouse Theatre from 20 November to 8 December 2012



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