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May 18, 2023 | Theatre, Uncategorized, Events, General,

What did you think about Nehanda?

Join the conversation and let us know what you thought about Nehanda! Comment below, either by following one of the prompts below or with whatever crosses your mind. We can’t wait to hear from you!

“There’s a beauty and power to the sounds and movements of Nehanda…
It amounts to a defiant and joyous collective cry of ‘I am.’
chipaumire is an uncompromising artist who is not afraid to challenge her audience.”
— Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe

“Thunders ferociously…it’s easy to get caught up in the expansive soundscape the artists create.”
— Jacquinn Sinclair, WBUR

1. Where in your body did the performance most resonate? 
2. Why do you think nora chose opera as the format to tell this story?
3. Do you think about restorative justice, reparations, and cultural self-determination differently after this experience?

Feel free to leave a comment on this blog post, or reach out on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram; be sure to tag @ArtsEmerson too! Be sure to check back here for more reviews from press and other audience members.

4 responses to “What did you think about Nehanda?”

  1. Layli Maparyan says:

    I DO think about restorative justice, reparations, and cultural self-determination differently after the powerful and immersive experience of seeing Nehanda at the Emerson Paramount Center last night. For me, Nehanda was a deeply meditative experience that had me reflecting on how Africana cultures and people will shape futurity, on justice as a spiritual-cosmological phenomenon, and on the power of African-based art forms to stimulate social transformation. There is a verse on justice in the Baha’i sacred scriptures that always baffled me: “O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in my sight is Justice. Turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behoveth thee to be. Verily justice is my gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set is then before thine eyes.” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words). There was a moment in Nehanda where I had an epiphany about this verse and suddenly grasped an understanding of Justice in a wider context. I will continue to ponder what I came to understand for a long time. I thank the visionary playwright Nora Chipaumire for making this bolt of insight possible for me! I also thank ArtsEmerson for inviting me to the show, as I might otherwise not known about it.

  2. Frank says:

    I really wish it were like an hour shorter. I totally get the trance creation, but I truly thought I was going insane and disassociated several times throughout the show.

  3. Rick says:

    It would’ve been nice if it had been more explicit about trying to induce a trance state

    I was expecting the initial part to be a prelude, and ended up bouncing after ~ half an hour

  4. Jonathan Bressler says:

    I am no stranger to repetition, trance like and hypnotic aesthetics – Judaism has a lot of practices similar to this.

    The creator of Nehanda, tho, did not do enough work to render this show to connect to the audience. There were no breadcrumbs, no dramaturgy, no explanations, no subtitles, no clear narrative throughline. The show felt narcissistic in nature – art is also about the audience and if you want to engage them in the meaning-making process you have to clue them into what they were thinking.

    There were moments of beautiful riffs and motifs, some interesting movement, and a lot of talent, but the lack of coherence or handholding or even a helpful program plot/song summary for audience members that do not speak the languages made it clear that this show was not for them, and how dare they expect even an ounce of help to connect to the performance.

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