Learning Feminism from Rwanda

Learning Feminism from Rwanda

Photo by © Serge Rwogera

Rwanda has already accomplished what women in Europe are still fighting for: 61 % of parliamentarians are female. In Germany only 31 % of parliamentarians are women. This performance looks at the extraordinary rise of female representation in all parts of Rwandan society over the past 25 years due to gender quotas at the base of politics. This is juxtaposed with a critical view of Germany which has had gender equality written into its constitution since 1949. This raises a global question: if this rapid change was possible in Rwanda, why not in Germany and the rest of the world? A Rwandan and a German performer compare numbers and realities from both countries, using a drum as the central symbol of power. They also look behind the curtain: If women get empowered, how do men deal with losing power and what are the battles at home? Who washes the dishes and takes the children to school? How slowly or quickly does culture and mindset change due to quotas? What are the instruments of change?

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, three performers from Kigali will be present on video and one German and one Rwandan performer live on stage. With passionate speeches, protest choreographies, and stories of change and stagnation, all driven by an electronic soundtrack, the five performers follow this Rwandan fast-track empowerment via shining statistics through the glass ceiling and beyond. What can Europe learn from Rwanda?

Artistic Direction: Lisa Stepf & Sophia Stepf
Devised and Performed by: Nirere Shanel, Lisa Stepf/Cornelia Dörr (live performance), Yvette Niyomufasha, Natacha Muziramakenga, Wesley Ruzibiza (video performance)
Direction: Sophia Stepf
Video Design & Scenography: Marc Jungreithmeier
Choreography: Wesley Ruzibiza
Composition: Andi Otto, Inanga Recordings: Sophia Nzayisenga
Composition of Melodies, Lyrics and Vocals: Nirere Shanel
Costume Design: Tatjana Kautsch in collaboration with Cédric Mizero, Maximilian Muhawenimana, Afriek, Ibaba Rwanda and Louise Mutabazi
Video Kigali: Kivu Ruhorahoza
Light Design & Technical Direction: Susana Alonso
Set construction: büro unbekannt
Assistant Director: Annekatrin Utke 
Production Management Rwanda & Dramaturgy: Louise Mutabazi
Production Management & Company Management Flinn Works: Gustavo Fijalkow

A Flinn Works Production in Cooperation with EANT Festival/ Amizero Kompagnie
Co-produced by Theater Freiburg, Sophiensæle Berlin, Goethe-Institut Kigali, Kaserne Basel, HELLERAU – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste, Maillon Théâtre de Strasbourg – scène européenne
In co-operation with Staatstheater Kassel, Theater Tuchlaube Aarau, FFT Düsseldorf

Supported by Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa, Kulturamt der Stadt Kassel, Gerhard-Fieseler-Stiftung, Between Bridges

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Sophiensaele Berlin (29.10. (Opening) / 30.10. / 31.10. / 1.11.), Theater Tuchlaube Aarau (11.11. / 12.11.), Kaserne Basel (13.11. / 14.11.) 

Live shows of satellite projects in Kigali 2021
18.2. + 3.4. Natacha Muzimaramakenga: "Body out loud"
23.3. + 26.3. Yvette Niyomufasha: "Hafi Y'abagore"
27.3. + 29.3. + 4.4. Wesley Ruzibiza: "In women's shoes"
12.5. Screening of the Theatre Film (English/German with French subtitles) Zoom at Goehte-Institut Kigali

13.5. Streaming Concert + Q&A with Sophia Nzayisenga, Parfait Rwigema, Andi Otto vo Zoom at Goethe-Institut Kigali


“Precisely because it opts for an unusual perspective, this performance provides a lot to think about as well as a lot to laugh about. (...) It's wonderful that the gentlemen of occidental creation, who these days like to be depicted as "toxic white men," are invited by their Rwandan colleagues to enter the feminist coaching zone. (...) This hybrid play is a Gesamtkunstwerk.” Badische Zeitung, 16.11.2020

“A stunning spectacle takes place on the stage. There is drumming, numbers and statistics fly, there’s talk about quotas, sex, dispararities between cultures and salaries. "Learning Feminism from Rwanda" - it quickly becomes clear - wants to educate and it does so with drastic, striking, exciting and surprising means.” Culture Africa

'''‘Learning Feminism from Rwanda’ is an example of a smart, witty, reflective and yet determined approach to the issue of equality.” Theater der Zeit, 01/2021