“Are we just going to sit here and watch some white people fall in love all day?”
In a small rehearsal room, a diverse troupe of actors attempt to devise a performance about the first modern genocide – to chilling effect. Written by Yale alum and Windham Campbell winner Jackie Sibblies Drury, We Are Proud to Present… is an incendiary funny-until-it-isn’t play that premiered to universal acclaim and demands answers about the violence of erasure and the politics of performance. What histories and stories get told, and how do we tell them?
As a Theater maker I have a deep interest in telling stories of individuals against a greater socio-political and particularly African backdrop, so naturally I leaped at the opportunity to direct Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About The Herero Of Namibia, Formerly Known As Southwest Africa, From The German Südwestafrika, Between The Years 1884-1915, or We are Proud to Present in short.
This exquisite and complex narrative offers us insight into a forgotten history that bears a striking resemblance to the tide of our own times. Irony and the very notion of performance are used as devices to question ideas about representation, authenticity, and accessibility. In We Are Proud to Present, we learn about the German colonial occupation of Südwestafrika (present-day Namibia) as told by a troupe of well-intending actors. The only historical evidence from this era are letters from German soldiers to their loved ones, which proves to be problematic in constructing a balanced account of the events at the time.
Perhaps what is at the heart of the play can be likened to a widely known African proverb, which Chinua Achebe has summarized so eloquently: “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Through this play, Sibblies Drury warns us about the correlation between one-sided historical accounts and the ability that history has to repeat itself.
As a newcomer to the Dramat, I am impressed by its legacy as a revered student organization, and I'm excited to join the team as it forges new ground in expanding its programming by telling more diverse stories of the human experience. We are passionate about sharing this particular story with the broader Yale and New Haven community, and, among other opportunities, we will be offering a series of post-show talkbacks, during which the artists, special guests, and audiences will be able to discuss their response to the text and performance.
I hope that you will join us as we share: We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About The Herero Of Namibia, Formerly Known As Southwest Africa, From The German Südwestafrika, Between The Years 1884-1915.