ECLIPSED's Lupita Nyong'o Sees Nothing Small in Danai Gurira's Powerful Drama
Under the usual circumstances, playwright Danai Gurira's extraordinary drama of five women choosing different means of survival during the Liberian Civil War, Eclipsed, would not be thought of as the kind of play that would find itself on Broadway when it open at The Public Theater last October.
Despite its empowering message and critical acclaim, Gurira's frank depiction of the institutionalized rape of women during wartime, played by five women of color, is not common fare for commercial theatre.
But when a well-known Hollywood star chooses to play the lead in a new play produced in a small Off-Broadway venue, buzz follows. The presence of Lupita Nyong'o, relatively fresh off her Best Supporting Actress Academy Award win for "12 Years A Slave," was certainly a factor in ECLIPSE's transfer to Broadway, where both the play and its leading player have been Tony nominated.
And while theatre lovers can appreciate the work and artistry that goes into such endeavors, there remain those who don't get it.
"During my last round of press for the play,' Nyong'o writes in an essay for Lenny, "a journalist asked me, 'Why would such a big star choose to do such a small play?'"
"This question felt quite silly,' she continues. "I mean, I'm an actress; why wouldn't I want to be in an incredible, gorgeous, meaty piece about the complicated choices of women during wartime? But then it went deeper than that. To me it felt like a question about our value system in this culture, the ways we define success for ourselves as well as others."
Set in Liberia, Danai Gurira's Eclipsed is now on Broadway direct from its sold-out, critically acclaimed production at The Public Theater last fall. Eclipsed is the story of five extraordinary women brought together by upheaval in their homeland of Liberia. They forge a close-knit community... one that inspires them to feats of increasingly greater strength. Eclipsed marks the first production in Broadway history to feature an all-female cast, playwright and director. The critically-acclaimed production is a limited engagement through June 19th. Eclipsed was recently nominated for 6 Tony Awards including Best Play.