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Oromiya’s Return to remount this summer in Minnesota

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Written by Mohammed A

By Mohammed Ademo

Oromiya’s Return: The Journey of Lost and Found, a 30-minute play by Jerrie Steele based on a book “Once Upon a Time in Oromiya (Sheeko Sheeko): An East African Traditional Folktale” written by by Lina Abdulaya and her family, with illustrations by Janet Curiel, will be remounted next month, the organizers said.

 As we have previously reported , the play is the co-production of the West Bank Community Coalition and Bedlam Theatre. Last April, Bedlam and the Minnesota Historical Society presented the original production with a cast of East African performers to a full house.

The short play is set long ago in the land of Kush, modern day Oromia in Ethiopia. As the play begins, the main character, an ailing Gadaa, who’s on his deathbed, tells the oldest son to pay everyone that claims his father owed him or her money. As it turned out, someone was listening –– and suddenly everyone in the village comes asking to be paid.

As a result, a once wealthy Oromo family becomes bankrupt and loses everything, including each other. Later, one of Gadaa’s sons, Oromo – now a destitute father – jumps into the Kush river to kill himself after his wife left him for a wealthy man. But he re-emerges from the bottom of the river with a miraculous healing power, which he then uses to reunite his broken family.

“Oromos and non-Oromo’s alike received the play enthusiastically and an encore production was demanded,” said Maren Ward, the Artistic Director in an email to OPride.

The group is now looking to organize an Oromo Community Arts Festival at the end of August. “We are seeking actors, musicians, dancers, and costumers for Oromiya’s Return – as well as other Oromo artists and storytellers for other performances,” Ward said. The venue and exact dates for the remount are yet to be determined.

An informational meeting will be held tomorrow, Sunday July 15th, 5pm at Trinity Lutheran Church across from Afro-Deli (2001 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454).

All interested in getting involved are encouraged to attend the meeting. Those unable to attend but would like to contribute can contact Maren Ward at maren@bedlamtheatre.org.

Here’s a short clip of the play, recorded and edited by OPride’s graphic editor, Big Z Kadir.

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