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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Estella Daniels and Kiké Brimah. All photos by Chris Saunders

Here's What She Said to Me opened at the Crucible on 30 October. Its run was cut short due to lockdown. It's available to stream 1–31 December 2020, with a British Sign Language Interpreted version also be available from 8 December. It's free to access, though audiences are encouraged to make a donation, which will be shared between Sheffield Theatres and Utopia Theatre.

Read on for Armarni's review of the play from its limited run at the Crucible.

The world premiere of Here’s What She To Me comes after months of uncertainty, being the Crucible’s first play since lockdown was announced back in spring. At a time of widespread debate over diversity in theatre, it boasts an all-black, all-woman cast, telling the story of three proud Nigerian women. And as the world sees the shocking footage from inside Nigeria during the #EndSARS protests, there’s never been a more important time to hear these stories.

The small cast – Ayo-Dele Edwards, Estella Daniels, Kiké Brimah – play three generations of Nigerian women, each morphing into different characters with incredible ease, regardless of age and gender. We follow them across decades and continents as they simply show us their lives and tell us their stories of culture, love, family and hardship.

Switching from storytelling to song, poetry and back again, this bold piece from Utopia Theatre is bursting at the seams with the vibrancy of African culture. How director Mojisola Elufowoju manages to transport us to Ibadan, Nigeria with a tiny cast and a pared-down set is nothing short of magic, while writer Oladipo Agboluaje casts a spell over the script.

The play touches on some of the darker experiences of womanhood – s*xual assault, abortion, infidelity and miscarriage. But as quickly as these themes begin to burn through, they disappear again like smoke in the wind, reminding us how common these things are for women, and how quickly we often have to carry on as normal.

The cast ride the unique challenges of performing to a sparse, socially distanced audience of blank, masked expressions, and steer the play in a direction that makes the story shine. They give an intimate, raw experience in which we are glued to these women through their journeys – bumps and crashes included. No airs, graces or fancy sets and crowd atmosphere to taint the true, stripped-back emotion of the piece.

We don’t know what the future of theatre will bring. But with this story, we can hope that it’s heading in the right direction.

Watch Here's What She Said to Me online

Donate to Utopia Theatre and Sheffield Theatres

Estella Daniels

Kiké Brimah and Estella Daniels

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