Off-Broadway Play MIRACLE IN RWANDA Closes In Manila, 7/22

By: Jul. 22, 2010
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Leslie Lewis Sword and Edward Vilga's critically acclaimed inspirational one-woman play "Miracle in Rwanda", which made its first round of performances at the TheaterZone, Naples, Florida and at the Ohio Theatre in New York City in 2007, premieres in Manila at the Insular Life Theatre in Makati City from July 14 to 22, 2010 with afternoon and evening performances.  The show will tour Vancouver, British Columbia after the Philippines.

"Miracle in Rwanda" is Sword and Vilga's theatrical take on Rwandan Immaculée Ilibagiza's tale of survival during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.  24-year-old Ilibagiza survived the race murder, together with seven other Rwandan women, by huddling silently in a secretly kept local pastor's extra bathroom that's only 3 x 4 ft. wide.  These strong-willed women hid themselves from the machete-wielding genocidaires for 91 days armed only with a rosary and faith in God. 

The assassination of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana in April 1994 prompted the mass killings of at least 80,000 Tutsis and peace-loving Hutus (ethnic groups in Central Africa mostly found in Rwanda and Burundi) by Hutu militias from the political parties called Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi. 

Ilibagiza's own father, mother and two brothers were brutally murdered during the three-month racial slaughter. 

Playwright and stage actress Sword, recently seen in a benefit performance of "The Vagina Monologues" of TRDZ Productions and "Yesterday Came Too Soon:  The Dorothy Dandridge Story" of The National Black Theatre Company, first encountered Ilibagiza's miraculous story in a conference in 2007, roughly a year after the genocide survivor launched her bestselling autobiography entitled "Left to Tell". Sword followed Ilibagiza, whom she considers a living saint, to Rwanda where a film crew was making a documentary feature on the Hutu and Tutsi genocide.  Sword soon found herself portraying Ilibagiza in her own one-woman play "Miracle in Rwanda" in that same year. She plays ten characters in the one hour production. 

"Eyes swimming with fear, the actress barely dares to breathe while the sounds of crashing and shattering from other parts of the pastor's home indicate the presence of machete-wielding thugs looking for escapees. Simply yet effectively, she individualizes an overwhelmingly monstrous piece of recent history. Yet committed as her work is, it's so compressed in this hourlong presentation that the implications of any given situation don't have time to sink in before the story rushes on to the next event," said Daryl H. Miller in his review of "Miracle in Rwanda" for the Los Angeles Times.

He added, "Everything else is up to the actress. She lowers the register of her voice and reshapes her face to become Ilibagiza's worried father; she yips a war cry and swings an imaginary machete to portray a local thug; and she seems to fold in on herself as she huddles within the taped outline, the merest stretch of her arms indicating the luxury of any sort of movement in the place where Ilibagiza hid for 91 days while Hutus hacked to death their Tutsi neighbors."

"Some might take the play's overtly religious message as barely concealed proselytizing, but few could argue against the value of its message. That message, in Ilibagiza's case, is the struggle and achievement of forgiving one's enemies for even the gravest of offenses. She accomplishes this, after much deliberation, supplication (and hallucination), in a scene late in the play where she comes face to face with a perpetrator," noted Colin Dabkowski of the Buffalo News. 

Its local core production team, composed of Filipino-American and TLC Beatrice Foods conglomerate CEO Loida Nicolas-Lewis, and executive producers Roger S. Chua and Lulu V. Obillo from Repertory Philippines, brings "Miracle in Rwanda" to Manila. 

Major sponsors include Oscar J. Hilado of Phinma Foundation Inc. and Mariposa Foundation, Inc; and Rene "Butch" S. Meily of PLDT-Smart Foundation, Inc., together with the various civil society groups that will promote the play to their communities.

Dodie Lucas for Sambayan Educational Foundation of St.Theresa's College (SEFI), represented by PNB senior vice president Emmanuel Plan II, sponsors the performance on July 15, 2010 along with the Lewis College in Sorsogon City.

Also on hand are lawyer Katrina Legarda for Women's Lawyers Circle (WILOCI); art patron Tessie Luz for Catholic Women's Club (CWC); General Jimmy de los Santos for UP Alumni Association of the Philippines (UP AAP); Angel Nacino for Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation; Carmen Arceno of Inner Wheel Club of Makati EDSA;  Chito Liban and wife Maribel for Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life, Novaliches district;  Danny Dolor for Confradia de la Immaculada Concepcion; and Ronald D. Acolola Jr. for St.Pius X Seminary Alumni Association Manila Chapter.

For performance schedule and ticket inquiries, contact Liza at (63) 919 410 3770 or Charmane at (63) 929 586 7746.


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