If you’re out and about next month and fancy taking in a show, check out Gail Egbeson’s wonderful play called Jollof Wars, a cultural celebration of Black voices, at Vault Festival between 14-16 February 2020.
Promising playwright, Gail Egbeson, wrote the comedy-drama play, bravely taking on the infamous cultural debate between Ghana and Nigeria about who has the tastiest jollof rice. We know who takes the crown, but we’ll play along!
The great Jollof debate is a popular topic that rages across the West African diaspora, each country’s citizens professing that their regions Jollof Rice recipe is Numero Uno. In the play, Gail explores these themes through the intrigue and wonder of a wedding. Two young, Black British lovers, of Nigerian and Ghanaian descent, argue over which of their respective nation’s Jollof Rice should be served on their big day, a discussion which turns into a domestic courtroom drama.
Starring in the play is Steffi Igbinovia, who plays the beautiful bride Kelechi Kalu, and co-protagonist (or maybe antagonist is a better word) Maximus Morgan who plays her Ghanaian fiancé, Kojo Mensah.
“The play serves as a means of cultural celebrations of Black voices through Jollof Rice.”
For emerging writer Gail, the journey began in her room, while watching court style reality TV shows. Gail has a rule that if she is watching anything, she must have food in front of her; otherwise, it’s boring! On one particular occasion she ordered Jollof Rice without plantain and tweeted, “should Jollof Rice be served with plantain “yes or no?” This simple question stimulated a hot online debate, and she was inspired to bring the themes to life in a court style play with an engaged couple.
She wrote a ten-page script of the play and performed it at The Upsetters: a night of short plays by writers, directors and actors of colour. This led to an amazing opportunity with performing arts theatre company Purple Moon Drama who saw her perform Jollof Wars that night. Purple Moon Drama commissioned her and developed her play with Arts Council funding into a full-length work of art.
We approached Gail for comment on her work, and she had this to say:
On why people should go to see Jollof Wars
“People should come and see Jollof Wars because it’s a show that’s relatable to Black people where we are able to see ourselves and be proud of where we come from as well as the circumstances that revolve around our lives because of who we are.”
On what her play represents
“Jollof Wars is a play that represents Black people as the centre, aside from our struggles. The play serves as a means of cultural celebrations of Black voices through Jollof Rice.”
Will it make us laugh?
“People who come to see the play should expect the unexpected, drawn from the means of cultural banter and celebration. They should be ready to laugh and feel good about who they are collectively in a theatre space.”
So, will it be a Nigerian Jollof or a Ghanaian Jollof finale at the wedding? If you want to find out, you know where you need to be next month; at the Vault Festival!
Details of Jollof Wars by Gail Egebeson
Dates: 14 – 16 February 2020
Venue: Network Theatre, 246A Lower Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8SJ
Time: 6.15 pm
Ticket prices: From £7.50
Box office: 0333 666 3366
Book your tickets: here
This article was written by Oliver Taylor