Behind the scenes of Zippy Okoth’s Stranger in my Bed
Dr Zippy Okoth’s Stranger in My Bed is a one woman show that tells the struggles of being in an abusive marriage.It is directed by Yvonne Mwawuganga and produced by Miriam Kadzitu. When Yvonne Mwawuganga took up the directing role in Stranger in My Bed, from the Diary of a Divorced woman, she was unaware of the challenges that lay ahead.
The one woman play stars Dr Zippy Okoth who plays Ricky Jasuba. She authored the script which tells her bitter-sweet love story with a military man.
Jasuba is a woman who finds herself trapped in an abusive marriage. She fears backing out due to societal pressures but eventually leaves, five years later, when she realises that she is losing herself.
Yvonne says she was shocked to know that Zippy had been through such a traumatic experience.
“I know her as a bubbly, fierce, no-nonsense woman but hearing all that she had endured got me really interested in telling her story,” says Yvonne.
Given that character formation is determined by the script and the world that is painted therein, rehearsals became a daunting task for for the duo.
“She had lived through her story so trying to convince her to take a different route from the one she knew, was like arguing with someone who has more knowledge in the script than you. This put in me in a rather awkward position as a director. We went through it over time and hacked what we could,” recounts Yvonne.
For Zippy who had already gotten over her past, it was an emotionally wrecking experience to relive the years of anguish on stage.
Stranger in my bed reflects a reality in our society, with increasing cases of domestic violence being reported countywide.
According to Dr Zippy, the story is not a tragedy but a comedy.
“I was able to tell bits of people’s stories together with mine in a humorous way.The story is about a passionate love story but it also tells us what not to do to keep a marriage.”
Part One of the play was showcased at the Kenya National Theatre on Valentines Day this year but the second bit is likely to be showcased this August. See also: Review: World Tofauti-when love goes beyond social class
Yvonne says : “I think the biggest problem is the fact that many women are always striving to be a ‘good wife’. You end up not loving yourself while trying to be a woman whom a man can love. This show focused on first loving yourself as a person, whether male or female, before thinking of other things.”
Zippy holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Theatre Arts from Kenyatta University and has founded the Legacy Arts and Film Lab Kenya.
She believes that art is society’s most powerful women and should be used to spread social change messages. She suggests that soldiers should be offered some form of therapy because the continuous exposure to violent scenes while at war has a detrimental effect on their personalities in the long term.
Courtesy: Hot 96 and Film Speak interviews