Cooking Oil, a New Play Set in Developing Africa, Gets NYC Reading May 28 Prior to Uganda | Playbill

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News Cooking Oil, a New Play Set in Developing Africa, Gets NYC Reading May 28 Prior to Uganda Ugandan playwright Deborah Asiimwe's Cooking Oil, a new play about an East African girl and foreign aid meant for her village, will get a Manhattan reading May 28.
Condola Rashad Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The reading will be held at 8 PM at the SITI Company space (520 Eighth Avenue, Suite 310), and is in preparation for fall performances in Kampala, Uganda, at the National Theater of Uganda. A U.S.-based team of five artists will work in collaboration with local theatre artists and performers, and members of the Nyonyonzi Cultural Troupe. Heading to Uganda in the fall will be playwright Deborah Asiimwe, director Emily Mendelsohn, designer Shannon Scrofano, filmmaker Qadriyyah Shamsid-Deen and producer Miranda Wright. Mendelsohn will direct the New York City reading. She said in a statement, "We believe the play will entice meaningful international conversations around issues of development, government, and women's rights in East Africa."

Cooking Oil, according to the creators, "tells the story of Maria, a young girl whose dreams of returning to school drive her to sell foreign aid meant for free distribution to her village. Maria's difficult choices cost her life. Maria, her family, the corrupt local politicians, and the system of foreign aid itself are implicated in the search for an adequate response to this human loss."

The reading cast includes Chandra Thomas, Condola Rashad, Danyon Davis, Jill Beckman, Kola Ogundiran, Michael Awusie, Thoman Pecinka, Kelechi Ezie and Elizabeth Pickett.

Writer Asiimwe earned a master of fine arts degree in writing for performance from CalArts. Mendelsohn earned an MFA in directing there.

Cooking Oil had a workshop at CalArts and will have its world premiere this fall. Mendelsohn said there is hope that the production, with a Ugandan cast, will find a future life in the U.S.

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