January 6, 2019
Saturday was just barely too hot for snow in NYC but plenty cold and rainy enough for the Gazette to seek refuge indoors. As the lousy weather coincided with the Under the Radar Festival, we headed over to Astor Place and on down to the Public Theater. This year is the 15th edition of the festival and the performance about to begin as we dove inside was Ifeoma Fafunwa’s “Hear Word!”
The hour-plus work “grapples with the issues affecting the lives of women across Nigeria,” per the program. This non-stop theatrical freight train of around two dozen vignettes illustrates lives lived on the receiving end of Patriarchy in
all many of its ugly forms. From the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Chibok, to the nonchalant male groper on a bus, to the battered wife who recounts being scolded by her family for fighting back, “Hear Word!” relentlessly depicts the everyday injustices that oppress women’s lives in Nigeria and, by implication, here as well. One difference between here and there is that they have better music, dance, and wardrobes over there, judging by this piece anyway.
The cast and musicians are superb. Many of the segments use music and/or dance to create a variety of moods and visuals, all while offering “intimate portraits of resilience and resistance.” There are a few more opportunities to catch this one: Today at 1:30 and 5, and Monday at 7:30. The complete Festival line-up is here.