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New Greenham Arts - The Man Who Committed Thought

14th February 2003.

This was the Newbury News review.

Essence of Africa

The Man Who Committed Thought, at New Greenham Arts, on Friday, February 14

The Man who Committed Thought, created and performed by Patrice Naiambana, expressed the valuable lessons that Africa's story can give to the rest of the world and aimed to combat the racism and stereotyping which come from repeated negative images.

It was a spellbinding performance and storytelling at its very best. With consummate skill and ease Naiambana changed characters, his body twisting and curving to become the poor African peasant wearing a large sand-coloured cloak, with eyes that light up for Esther, his love.

In a moment, with a point of a finger, another gesture and a bowler hat, he became the lawyer defending the peasants, accepting goats or baskets of mangoes as payment for his services. This was very much a story about justice.

The essence of Africa was embraced through Naiambana's gifted performance in the minimal set of a table, phone, book, and red cloak surrounded by skulls.

As in all good storytelling the audience got involved. One brave person was inveigled into answering the phone for the president and was well and truly taught how to respect a man of such position.

It was good humoured and increased the warmth we all felt at watching such a craftsman at work.

Then he would turn on a sixpence, moving to damn the atrocities of war, "Why should I be a refugee in my own country? Who is going to help us?"

There were so many characters, beautifully rounded and presented, like the rebel who had seen his mother raped at the age of 16 - "Where was the United Nations then?"

Then more humour as the new self-styled president spoke to Tony Blair.

This was a richly created tapestry that examined the social and political issues, ultimately asking in the light of persistent injustice, how mankind could learn to love his neighbour.

A truly thought-provoking experience that affected the audience, who remained behind to discuss the issues with Naiambana. You couldn't ask for better than that.