« Taiwo makes a lot of noise. It has never been my way. I make up my mind up, even if it takes a while. Everyone thinks Taiwo is stronger, because she talks so much. I think she is weak. (…) I’ve never been a crier, and this is my decision. It is my decision. Taiwo always tries to tell me what to do, but not today. (…) I will let everyone know what I’ve decided. »
A young woman learns a hidden truth about her fiancé just before their engagement party.
An elderly widow and her old flame meet again forty years later.
A divorcée gets help from her ex-husband when moving into a new house and bond again.
In these domestic scenes, Sefi Atta manages to capture the intimate atmosphere of the family cell not as a homely, cosy cocoon, but as a complex labyrinth of emotions and ties which never cease to change. What the plays have in common is staging moments of revelation, moments when truth is made public and no one, not even the closest or loved ones, cannot hide it or turn away from it any more.
The langage and rather short length of the plays contrasts with the incredibly complex and multi-facetted relations the characters have : everyday life situations are exposed so as to make us reflect not only on parenthood, married life or friendship means, but also to see how domestic life echoes onto the social relations at a larger scale. Between family and nation the difference is smaller than it seems, because the tensions within the home are always linked in some way to the bigger picture.
Sefi Atta’s brilliant collection of plays is a way of peaking into the intimacy of the home where the sound of the outside world is always close ; students, feminists, elderly lovers, all discover how relations with the closest people are infinitely rich and risky. The stage, the perfect compromise between home and public place, is also the place of revelations within the family ties and within the human soul.
Sefi Atta: Selected Plays by Sefi Atta
978-1623719791/ Interlink Publishing (to be released April 9, 2019)
Review by Ioana Danaila
Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.