When Jackie Sibblies Drury wrote her graduate thesis in playwriting, she had no expectation that it would ever be produced. She slapped an impossibly long title on the cover page, simply because the absurdity of it made her laugh. But, to her surprise, SoHo Rep decided to produce it the following year.
It was a hit.
And now Drury finds herself traveling all over the country to catch productions of the piece, including Philadelphia.
This weekend previews begin at InterAct Theatre Company for “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia Formerly Known as South West Africa from the German Sudwest Afrika.”
Why did you choose to write about the genocide of the Herero people in Namibia?
Actually, I was researching something completely different: a [famous] black German actor. I just happened to Google “black people” and “Germany.” The genocide kept popping up, and I went down the Internet rabbit hole reading about it. I was shocked that I didn’t know anything about it. I thought that I would be able to name the various genocides that happened in the modern era, but here was a humongous one committed by Germany in the 20th century, and I knew nothing about it.
Why do you think the Herero genocide is not more widely known?
I’m not sure. In part, I think that in America we don’t learn a ton of African history, or post-Colonial history. So I think it points to the lack of understanding about the African continent generally.
How did you come up with the idea of telling the story from the perspective of a troupe of actors creating a play about the Herero?
Years ago I was trying to write a historical piece about the Herero. I failed. I didn’t capture the people that lived through this drama in any sort of accurate way. I became really interested in how difficult it is to portray what you yourself have not experienced, and that idea became more interesting to me than piece I was originally trying to write.
“We Are Proud to Present”
InterAct Theatre Company
2030 Sansom St.
Oct. 18-Nov. 10