Award-winning playwright Silvia Cassini has chosen Nairobi to launch her newest play starring leading Kenyan actors Brian Ogola, Nini Wacera, Martin Kigondu, Matthew Ondiage, and Nixsa Shah.
The play, which opens on Friday 18 th November at the Muthaiga Country Club, is Silvia’s first
premiere since 2016, when she launched A Man Like Me in Nairobi, ahead of its global tour.
The 2016 play, about an expatriate kidnapped in Somalia, went on to headline at the Africa
Festival in Hong Kong, the Harare international Festival of Arts, and the Kampala
International Festival of Theatre, and was staged off-Broadway in New York, and in Cape
Town. It won the Sanaa Theatre Award for Best Tragedy in 2017 and brought the Best Actor
award for the late Maina Olwenya.
Silvia’s new play, Speak Their Names, now tells of a modern Italian playwright who gets
drawn into the defence of women charged 400 years earlier with witchcraft. As he works to
uncover and relate their story, his dreams are invaded by victims, and his own life thrown
“The narrative explores the suppression of the names, voices and experiences of these
persecuted women, and their struggle across the centuries to be heard,” said Silvia. “But,
for me, it speaks to more than Europe’s sad history of witch-hunting, instead offering a
vehicle of salvation in retrieving the names of all the women whose suffering is never told:
as those who persecute them seek to obliterate their traces.”
Silvia has led the way among international playwrights in choosing Nairobi for her launches,
this time coming from her home base of France to stage the premiere. “The quality of
Kenya’s acting talent has created an exceptional platform for the launch of new works,” she
“For playwrights, Nairobi offers access to top calibre stars that bring vibrancy and pathos to
scripts. I am convinced that where I am leading, others will follow: the level of attention to
Kenya’s rising theatre scene may be limited, today, but its dynamism and quality is
becoming outstanding,” she said.
Speak Their Names will be staged at the Muthaiga Country Club on 18 th and 19 th September,
and at Peponi Preparatory School on 25 th and 26 th September.