She Is A Place Called Home follows two British Nigerian sisters as they navigate their Dad’s decision to get another wife (as in, in addition to their Mum), and what this means for their faith, family and future. It plays at the VAULT festival from Tuesday 3rd – Saturday 7th March. We spoke to writer Esohe Uwadiae about her show which was written during the VAULT festival New Writers Programme last year.
Asked about the roots of She Is A Place Called Home, writer Esohe Uwadiae says, ‘I did a law degree and my favourite modules revolved around Family Law and Legal Accommodation. These areas of law could be incredibly messy, but what surprised me was the volume of obvious and quite disastrous gaps that existed, despite significant commentary and evidence of the harm this was creating… I’m hoping that this play raises awareness of the gaps in the law that continue to exist as a result of places, such as Britain, that herald their diversity as a strength but fail to modify their structures to support the people that fall within this group.’
The VAULT Festival is exciting because of the breadth of talent and voices that get represented, as well as the physical space and the feeling that is embodied within it, explains Esohe. ‘VAULT Festival is a mixing pot of some of the most daring, challenging and brilliant pieces of work that exist today, and I love that it’s done in such a way as to try and make everything as accessible as possible. The team also work hard to make the festival better each year, and it’s fun to come back and see how the festival has changed compared to the previous year.’
Esohe took part in the VAULT festival New Writers programme, which she says gave her the foundation on which she could grow. ‘Without it, I doubt this play would ever have been written. The best thing about it was the access it gave you to the theatre world. For example, we were able to watch shows that were on at the VAULT Festival, and each week we’d have a workshop lead by Camilla Whitehill and a guest. This gave us the chance to ask all the questions we had to people actually working in the industry.’.
The show was recently shortlisted for the Untapped Award, a partnership between New Diorama Theatre, Underbelly and Oberon Books. If successful, the show will be off to Edinburgh Fringe in the summer.
Throughout She Is A Place Called Home, various forms of non-physical domestic violence are explored – including traditions such as the payment of bride price. The play aims to highlight the way in which domestic violence can be minimised and presented as something else, such as an expected part of certain culture, and the impact this can have on secondary victims, particularly children. Esohe says, ‘We wanted to partner with Solace Women’s Aid to raise awareness of their life-saving work. They offer free advice and support, such as the provision of refuges, to women and children experiencing abuse and violence. To support them, during our run we will be collecting monetary donations for them, but also toiletries such as toothpaste and sanitary products.’