March 20, 2014

Theatre in Uganda and Rwanda: Commemoration, Complexity & Collaboration

Theatre in Uganda and Rwanda:

Commemoration, Complexity & Collaboration

An Artist Talk and Workshop with Emily Mendelsohn and Deborah Asiimwe

Workshop: Saturday, April 5th 9-12pm

Artist Talk: Monday, April 7th 7-8:30 pm


Lewis & Clark Department of Theatre

in collaboration with Boom Arts

and The World Affairs Council of Oregon


Theatre in Uganda and Rwanda:

Commemoration, Complexity & Collaboration

An Artist Talk and Workshop with Emily Mendelsohn and Deborah Asiimwe



Saturday, April 5th


The Fir Acres Black Box, Lewis & Clark College

FREE; email to sign up.


Artist Talk

Monday, April 7th 

7-8:30 pm

The Fir Acres Main Stage Theatre, Lewis & Clark College

FREE; advance reservations may be made via


What does long-term artistic collaboration between the US and Africa look like? Hear from US-based director Emily Mendelsohn and her collaborator of seven years, acclaimed Ugandan playwright Deborah Asiimwe as they discuss their five-year bi-national creation process for Cooking Oil, a play exploring the grassroots politics of foreign aid, as well as the upcoming work Maria Kizito, being developed in Rwanda by US, Rwandan, and Ugandan artists on the subject of the Rwandan genocide. Discover these artists extraordinary work and learn what it takes to connect, listen, and create across cultures.

About the Artists:

Emily Mendelsohn is director and dramaturg for live performance. She is interested in identity, difficult intimacy, and the embodiment of historical memory. Her work often pursues ensemble built across difference, nontraditional performance architectures, and layering image, text, music, and task to stage acts of revelation. Working with artists from Uganda, Rwanda, and the US, Emily developed and directed Deborah Asiimwe’s play, Cooking Oil, examining how issues surrounding international aid play out on a local and global level. In arts/pedagogy, she has taught directing courses at CalArts, Makerere University, and Powerhouse Theater Program. She mentors devised projects at NYU/Playwrights Horizons. With Erik Ehn, Emily participated in and helped build curriculum for annual travels in Rwanda/Uganda studying genocide and art’s capacity to participate in acts of witness and healing (2007- 2010). In Rwanda, she worked with Ehn and leading Rwandan artists Carole Keramera and Hope Azeda to produce Centre x Centre, an international arts and social justice performance festival (2011). She received a 2010 Fulbright Scholarship to Uganda and an MFA in directing from California Institute of the Arts.

Deborah Asiimwe is currently working as Specialist-Sundance East Africa. She is a theatre practitioner from Uganda. She writes for stage, sometimes for radio and in the recent past started writing for screen. Her recent plays includeForgotten WorldCooking OilAppointment with gOD (recently featured in the HotINK festival) and Untitled, which have all received productions in the United States of America. Asiimwe is a 2006 recipient of a scholarship of merit in Writing For Performance from California Institute of the Arts, where she recently graduated with a Master in Fine Arts (MFA) degree. In 2006, she won the award for the overall best student at Makerere University in Uganda, where she pursued her Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama. As an African woman, Asiimwe’s works explore socio-political issues that affect developing countries like her own in particular (Uganda), and the whole of the African continent in general. Asiimwe has participated in many artists’ gatherings and conferences, including, the annual Arts in the One World Conference (CalArts, Valencia, California), a project of The More Life: Cultural Studies and Genocide Initiative, a collaboration between CalArts and the Interdisciplinary Genocide Study Center in Kigali, Rwanda; the Women Playwrights International Conference (WPI) in the Philippines (2003); and is the 2003 Sundance Theatre Lab international observer.