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Esther’s Revenge For Brighton Fringe 2023

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After a brilliant and successful performance in South Africa, following an equally inspiring and thought provoking showing at Freedom Park, Lagos, Nigeria, Esther’s Revenge, a play written and directed by Kenneth Uphopho, is set to premiere in the United Kingdom at the Brighton Fringe 2023.

Produced by Tope Sanni for PAWSTUDIOS Africa, the play, featuring the hugely talented artiste, Bolanle Temitope Stephen-Atitebi as Esther Johnson, and Kenneth Uphopho as Warden, is scheduled to ignite the stage between May 25 and 28, and between May 31 and June 3, at the Brighton Fringe 2023. Esther’s Revenge is an experiential play inspired by true life events that led to a murder in 1953.

It is a gripping a story of Esther Ada Johnson and her role in the death of her white lover, Mark Hall. Esther Johnson loved Mark with all of her heart, body and wealth but one day, Esther takes a pair of scissors and stabs Mark to death. The play chronicles the last few days to the execution of Esther Ada Johnson who was reported to have murdered her white lover in 1953. The sentence is death by hanging.

This very participatory play as devised, explores themes around race, colonisation, racial profiling, sexual abuse, violence against women and social injustice. The play is a retelling of events dramatised by Bolanle Temitope Stephen-Atitebi, to an audience that acts as a jury to interact with Esther and then they would eventually be given the responsibility of determining the fate of the lead character Esther Johnson.

“Esther takes the jurors/audience/listeners on a journey through time into the events leading up to the death of Mark. The Jury/Audience is given the responsibility to vote in favour or against a stay of execution after their encounter with Esther. “Join our Jury as we deliberate if Esther should face the Hangman’s noose or go scot free.

It is up to you our jurors to decide this woman’s fate. Her life is in your hands,” notes Uphopho. According to him, Esther’s Revenge is the, “recipient of The Brighton Fringe International Touring Bursary 2023 in Association with the Pebble Trust and support from the British Council Nigeria @ngbritisharts @ thepebbletrust. While, “PAWSTUDIOS Africa is a creative and innovative hub based in Lagos, Nigeria.

We produce the Lagos and Abuja Fringe Festivals where we provide and showcase platforms for creatives. We are also a media and entertainment company, with over 200 live and new media shows to our credit.” Uphopho is a theatre director, writer and arts manager, with over 25 years of extensive experience in artistic direction and festival management.

He is the Director at Pawstudios Africa, operators of the Lagos and Abuja Fringe Festivals. As a theatre maker, Kenneth has produced and directed over 300 productions with some of Nigeria’s most exciting performers, writers, directors, and creative teams. By doing that he continues to invest in and promote new talent for the creative industry in Nigeria.

Over the years, part of Kenneth’s practice has evolved to include the development of non–theatrical, repurposed, and unconventional spaces to increase the reach of artistes with limited access to audiences and exhibition opportunities. Uphopho received the Salzburg Global Seminar Fellowship for 2020 in Austria and he is a global fellow of the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) New York.

Esther’s Revenge is one in the series of five plays written by Uphopho that he hopes to publish in the last quarter of 2023. Other plays in the series include; Ruth Abokoku, One Night Only, and Anna and Crime Scene.

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