Silent Voices’ Ga-AD, a story told through the eyes of Faith, could be theatre’s most important production this year.
Showing at National Theatre, Faith, a loyal servant of God, is dead and her soul has just entered the afterlife. Portrayed by Rehema Nanfuka, a bankable actress, Faith is not sure if she is in hell or heaven. But before she even finds out, she has to understand where she has come from.
Ga-AD is a critical picture set with a Pentecostal backdrop; it reads between the lines and manages to bring to life the cunningness of some of today’s religious leaders.
Faith tells the story in two ways – her spirit having a conversation with God about the life she had lived and the other part where she’s actually living that life, serving under one Apostle Jeremiah.
Of course what is revealed is a series of events that happened around the church and the sheer joke the most trusted man in the plot, Jeremiah, was making of Ga-AD, or God.
Staged at the National Theatre from July 30 to August 7, Ga-AD was more than just a play; it was an experience, a lesson to theatre practitioners and, above all, a pat on the back for theatre as a whole.
Coming at a time when all theatre is known for are shortcomings after shortcomings, the show could be the most important production theatre has been looking for as a benchmark.
From the sound, lighting, costumes and actors’ blocking among other things, it was clear that Adong Lucky Judith, the director, and Ssebaggala Andrew Jedidiah, the producing director of Silent Voices, had done their homework.
It was the kind of show where actors stayed on script even when one had to watch it multiple times, but even challenging, almost all of them had multiple characters, some of which followed each other but the transitions between scenes were effortless and swift.
The production was running away from the mediocrity that often sees half-baked works make it to the stage. Inspired by a poem posted by Beverly Nambozo on Facebook, the play has been taking shape for years.
First presented as a public reading in both National Black Theatre, New York and the University of North Carolina in 2013, the play is Adong’s first poetry hybrid production and her second major theatre production in a director’s seat after last year’s powerful Acholi production - Silent Voices.
The production was written by Adong, while Nambozo wrote all the poems that helped define many of the moments in the scenes. To ensure actors understood their characters and the script, she embarked on a month-long rehearsal for the cast and crew.
“We wanted to bring the discipline back, show the actors and crew that theatre can feed them,” Ssebaggala said in an interview.
By the time the cast, all dressed in black, made its final bow it was clear Adong and team had made all the right moves and if theatre can have three of such shows a year, the glory of this wonderful art will definitely be restored.