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An award nominated play, which is premiering tonight at Leicester’s Curve Theatre, will feature the narrative of an ethnic minority group and an all BME cast and crew.

The play, titled ‘Great Mother – Iva Ayaba’ has been written and directed by Mojola Akinyemi, who is currently studying English at the University of Cambridge.

Picture: Mojola Akinyemi

Nominated for the Mustapha Matura Award and Mentoring Programme in 2021, it will make its premiere tonight at the city’s Curve Theatre.

“It is a narrative of an ethnic minority group, with an all-BME cast and crew”, Mojola told Pukaar News.

It will be performed in a ‘naturalistic style, while also embracing the more abstract forms of theatre’.

Set in 1960s Nigeria, towards the end of the Biafran War ‘Great Mother – Iya Ayaba‘ explores the impact of mental, physical and spiritual turmoil on the lives of those unable to escape from conflict.

It follows the story of Agnes, a novitiate nun, who experiences a complete nervous breakdown. Her path crosses with Taiwo, a photojournalist reporting on the brutality of the conflict, who quickly forms an attachment to her.

After Agnes is largely shut away from human contact, he becomes her confidant, uncovering the malevolent reasons behind her mental deterioration, and the secrets of the convent she belongs to.

This is a play on turmoil, both internal and external, and the difficult choices people are forced to make for survival.

Picture: Mojola Akinyemi

“This play shines a light on an often forgotten part of history. Especially with recent events, we have been confronted with the harrowing consequences of war, and the impact on innocent lives”, explained Mojola.

“I wrote this play wanting to explore the effects on a damaged external environment on the human psyche. The play was written in the first months of 2021, during the nationwide lockdown. At that time, I was living with my cousins who grew up in Nigeria for much of their adolescence, unlike myself. Their presence provided me with greater understanding of life in the country my family had emigrated from, but it also confronted me with how little I knew. Part of the research process was reading through the oral histories of the war, available at

“It is distressing, but important to grasp the tragic reality of the brutality of the conflict. Writing this play was a form of discovery, one that I am sad to say I only recently undertook. This piece is also important, particularly for the National Student Drama Festival, as I like to think it embodies what new, student theatre should be about. Diverse perspectives and narratives boldly taking the stage, with student actors and a young production team coming together to create something brilliant for a professional stage.”

As well as premiering tonight, the piece will also be shown tomorrow night at Curve (Thursday, April 14), starting at 7.30pm.

Tickets for the performance are free.

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