Gurira, Danai. Eclipsed.
Premiere: Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington, DC. 2009.
Published: Dramatists Play Service, 2009.
Characters: Helena (aka Wife #1), 20; Bessie (aka Wife #3), 18; The Girl, 15; Maima (aka Wife #2), 18; Rita, 40s. All Liberian.
Place/Time: A LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) rebel army camp in Liberia, 2003
Action: When the Liberian civil war ends, four young women who have survived as soldiers and concubines are forced to decide what they will do next.
Scene 1: Bessie, Helena, and the Girl discuss the wars and calculate their ages. Bessie and Helena are wives of the CO. Bessie’s pregnant. Bessie leaves at one point to service the man. They keep the Girl hidden under a washing tub.
Scene 2: Night. The Girl comes back from having been raped by the CO. She is now wife #4. Bessie and Helena dread what the CO will do because they had hidden her.
Scene 3: Helena and Bessie discuss why the Girl isn’t upset about being raped. Bessie dreads her baby.
Scene 4: Helena comes in with stuff for the wives taken from civilians and takes charge of distributing it. Maima, comes in, now a soldier w/ a gun and all. She’s going to give them rice, but Helena sends her away. They find out that the Girl can read. The booty includes a book about Bill Clinto.
Scene 5: Maima visits Bessie, then leaves. The 3 wives discuss Clinto and America. The Girl is becoming the favorite of the CO and Helena.
Scene 6: Rita, a member of the Liberian Women’s Initiative, has come to camp to try to persuade the CO to observe the cease fire. She tries to convince Helena to leave. Meanwhile, Maima tries to recruit the Girl to be a soldier. Rita teaches Helena to write her name; Maima teaches the Girl to fire a gun.
Scene 7: Helena and Bessie find out about the Girl’s visit with Maima. The Girl wants to go be a soldier so the CO won’t be jumping her any more.
Scene 1: Maima teaches the Girl how to kill civilians and kidnap girls for the soldiers.
Scene 2: Maima and Rita: Rita tries to talk peace to Maima. We find out Rita lost her daughter to the soldiers and wants to find her.
Scene 3: The Girl has learned to be a soldier. Maima tells her she needs a man.
Scene 4: Rita’s with Helena; she suspects the Girl may be her daughter. Bessie’s water breaks.
Scene 5: The Girl is distraught for having been an accomplice in the rape/murder of a captive girl. Maima slaps her around, tells her to be a soldier. Gives her the name Moda’s (=Mother’s) Blessing.
Scene 6: The war is over; Charles Taylor has left the country. Helena comes in at loose ends having been told by the CO to go away. Maima comes in trying to get the Girl to go with her and keep fighting. Bessie’s going to stay with the CO and her baby Clintine. Rita takes Helena and leaves. The Girl picks up her gun and her book. She stands fixed between going after Maima and going after Rita as the curtain falls.
A very gritty depiction of the lives of these women who have been eclipsed by the war and the domination by soldiers.
The diction is heavily accented English.
Moments of comedy mixed with a lot of pathos.
In an interestingly theatrical touch, the CO is not played by an actor but is only observed by the women when he comes in to summons the next one to be raped. Thus, although the women’s lives are surrounded and largely determined by men, the cast is entirely female.