Pirira

As the tiny African nation of Malawi erupts in riots around them, American aid workers Jack and Ericka take shelter in the storage room of a struggling NGO in downtown Lilongwe. At the same time, half a world away, Malawian student Gilbert and his gay co-worker Chad begin another day in the back room of a Manhattan florist. None of them can imagine how deeply their lives are interconnected.
While these...
As the tiny African nation of Malawi erupts in riots around them, American aid workers Jack and Ericka take shelter in the storage room of a struggling NGO in downtown Lilongwe. At the same time, half a world away, Malawian student Gilbert and his gay co-worker Chad begin another day in the back room of a Manhattan florist. None of them can imagine how deeply their lives are interconnected.
While these two seemingly separate stories take place seven thousand miles apart, all four of the play’s actors share the same intimate physical space. Their dialogue is overlapping and interwoven, and at times incorporates Chichewa as well as English. The two couples pass within inches of one another, sharing the same set pieces and, eventually, a pivotal prop. It is only in the play's final moment that they each and all see one another.
In Chichewa, the play’s title, Pirira, means ‘endure’ or ‘persevere’. It is not only a theme for the play’s grieving characters, but also the name of the young Malawian girl, a victim of superstition and sexual violence, who connects them all to one another.
The play is inspired by actual political events that took place on July 20, 2011. It explores the ways in which our lives are inextricably linked across cultures, continents, language, and time.
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Pirira

Development History

  • Commission
    ,
    Theatre 167
    ,
    2013

Production History

Awards

Winner
,
Outstanding Premier Production
,
New York Innovative Theatre Foundation
,
2014
Outstanding Full Length Script, Outstanding Ensemble, Outstanding Actor In A Lead Role, Outstanding Lighting Design, Outstanding Sound Design
,
New York Innovative Theatre Foundation
,
2014