CWRU’s Baker-Nord program, Feb. 3, introduces Visiting Ugandan Playwright
Few people live through being shot six times and having a grenade thrown at them. But George Seremba, Ugandan playwright, and now visiting professor in the Case Western Reserve University Department of English, endured and survived such a horrific event.
In his play, Come Good Rain, he retells that experience on the night of Dec. 10, 1980, when he was abducted by Milton Obote’s military soldiers and taken into Namanve forest, shot and left to die.
People can hear about his harrowing experience and his escape to Kenya as he reads excerpts from his play, Come Good Rain, when the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities introduces Seremba to the Cleveland community and hosts the program, “George Seremba: Theater and the Poetics of Resistance,” Thursday, Feb. 3, at 4:30 p.m. in Clark Hall 309, 11130 Bellflower Road, on the Case Western Reserve campus. A reception will follow the free, public event, co-sponsored by The Cleveland Foundation and Cuyahoga Country Public Library.
Cuyahoga Country Public Library and Case Western Reserve University are the recipients of a Creative Fusion grant from The Cleveland Foundation. Through this generous grant, Seremba, who received his Ph.D. from Trinity College, Dublin, will spend the next two years teaching at the university (African plays, playwriting and methodology classes in the English department), offering public programming through Cuyahoga County Public Library, and writing and launching new works on Cleveland stages.
During his two-year residency, Seremba will be the Writer in Residence at Cuyahoga County Public Library and will be presenting poetry and playwriting workshops for adults and children’s, including readings related to the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and a writing workshop.
Seremba wrote his first play nine years after his horrific assault and after a visit to the forest and nearby village of Bweyogerere.
It was a small boy, searching to see if anyone from his village had fallen victim to the gunshots heard during the night, who found Seremba.
Seremba fought death by singing a song from one of his favorite folk tales about a small girl, abandoned by her mother in a wilderness, who found herself in a similar situation.
“She became my guardian angel,” he said.
“I did not want the forest to be my perpetual prison,” he recalls as he clung to life.
During his return visit to the village in 1989, the villagers asked Seremba, who had become an actor in his new country of Canada, whether he would write a play about his experience.
“It was at that point that I realized they did not see just a story but a play. I felt they commissioned me to write it,” he said.
“I relived the horror on my therapeutic voyage,” he wrote in the play’s introduction.
While Come Good Rain has been performed over 300 times—many by Seremba himself—it is not his only play. He is now working on several others in different stages of development.
During the February 3rd event, he will also read from Napoleon on the Nile. The play is about three Sudanese refugees, who on the seventh anniversary of their escape from the Sudan reenact their experiences of escaping the conflicts in their country.
Seremba’s talk is part of the yearlong exploration of the humanities and globalism. For more information about this event and future Baker-Nord programs, visit case.edu/humanities or call 216.368.2242.