Obisike – The Heart of a Lioness

A fairy tale about truth and duty from Nigeria and Germany – funded by the TURN Fund

"Obisike - Das Herz einer Löwin", Foto: Jeremiah Ikongo

What is polis? Who belongs to it and who is allowed to shape it – and who isn’t? What duties are demanded from members of a society? Can one balance one’s intuition and sentiment with one’s obligation to society? Can one challenge the “truths” of society and demand new rules? All of these questions address the role of the individual in a political community. They have existed in stories, myths and conceptual models on the African and European continent for ages. And now they appear to be more topical than ever. While Nigeria has witnessed the rise of an artistic “Afropolitan” movement in reference to the ancient Greek term polis, Europe is once again grappling with questions of national and European identity.

In the youth theatre production “Obisike – The Heart of a Lioness”, the Junge Schauspiel ensemble of the Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf examined these questions in cooperation with ASSITEJ Nigeria, the Nigerian branch of the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People. The play based on two mythical female figures: Queen Moremi and Iphigenia. According to Yoruba legend, the beautiful Moremi is enslaved and forced to join the hostile tribe of the Igbo. This enables her to discover the secret of their invincibility and thus save her people from the Igbo. In return for this knowledge, she must later sacrifice her only son. In contrast, the Greek mythological figure of Iphigenia must sacrifice herself for the community, but finds her own way. Both women probe the limits of self-determination as an individual in society, yet question gender-specific role models and concepts of the body.

The Belgian director Gregory Caers combined these two mythological traditions into one play which focused on reinterpreting the protagonists Moremi and Iphigenia. Two young actresses from Lagos and Düsseldorf told this great tale of coming of age, self-determination and willingness to sacrifice.

Artistic director: Stefan Fischer-Fels (DE); Director: Gregory Caers (BE);
Dramaturge: Kirstin Hess (DE)
Artists: Iyen Agbonifo-Obaseki (NG), Ijeoma Joy Olivia Johnbull (NG), Maria Perlick (DE), Yves Thuwis (BE)


Additional dates and venues

March/April 2017 Junges Schauspiel, Düsseldorf – performances

April/May 2017 Little Theatre/Artists' Village / Freedom Park / National Theatre, Lagos – performances

17 - 27 May 2017 ASSITEJ World Congress, Cape Town – performances

TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries

In 2012, the Federal Cultural Foundation established the TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries in order to encourage a wide range of German institutions to shift their focus on the artistic production and cultural debates in African countries.


Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus / Junges Schauspiel

Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz 1

40211 Düsseldorf (external link, opens in a new window)