School Presents ‘Forged in Fire’ — A Play by Ugandan Child Soldier-Turned-Artist

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Actress and activist Susan Sarandon is hosting the New York premiere of “Forged in Fire,” which is being performed at City Tech in Downtown Brooklyn beginning May 3. AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File

Starting on May 2, City Tech’s Theatreworks and Entertainment Technology Department presents “Forged in Fire,” at the Voorhees Theatre at 186 Jay St. in Downtown Brooklyn. The play is co-written and performed by Okello Kelo Sam, Ugandan child soldier-turned-performing artist, and tells a tragic tale with humor, song, dance and theadungu, a handmade harp with tribal origins in northern Uganda.  Film star and activist Susan Sarandon, will host the New York premiere.

“Forged in Fire” is an original work based on the playwright’s brother Godfrey who was abducted as a child by soldiers of the brutal and still-at-large warlord Joseph Kony. Godfrey was forced to fight, and ultimately died, in Uganda’s civil war. Years earlier Okello, too, was abducted as a child and forced to fight in a rebel uprising. Serving as raconteur, Okello employs humor, song and dance to weave a narrative collage of his brother’s nearly parallel tale.

Okello was abducted into a rebel army at age 16. He escaped, earned a college degree in performing arts, married, had a child and started Hope North—an accredited secondary school in Northern Uganda with a reputed arts program.  Okello also became a musician and dancer, joining the Ndere Troupe in Kampala. In 2006 he landed an instructing-performing role in the “The Last King Of Scotland.” Okello taught Forest Whitaker how to perform an Acholi warrior dance for his Academy Award-winning portrayal of Idi Amin in the film.

Kevin R. Free, director of “Forged in Fire,” received the Doric A. Wilson Independent Playwright Award in 2014. In 2010 he was named one of NYTheatre.com’s “People Of The Year” and was a Fellow of The New Black Fest. He is Producing Artistic Director of The Fire This Time Festival and was the first African-American to portray Bellomy in the Off-Broadway production of “The Fantasticks.”

The original script is by Okello Kelo Sam, Laura Edmonson and Robert Ajwang. The show is produced by City Tech Theatreworks and City Tech’s Entertainment Technology Department, in association with Cause Effect Agency. Developed with support from Dartmouth College, 651ARTS, the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center and Theatre Without Borders.

The performances will take place May 2, 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. (with a special free K-9 student matinee on May 9 at 2 p.m.). Tickets are $20 general admission (Donated to Hope North Uganda) and $10 for NYC-area college students (must show ID at door). City Tech Students — Free rush tickets at door day of performance.

Buy at door or online: http://forgedinfire.brownpapertickets.com/.

 

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