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Audience Can Immerse Themselves in ‘Nehanda’

three musicians play variety of percussion instruments, sing into microphones
nora chipaumire’s Nehanda at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. Photo/Sachyn Mital

In Nehanda, ArtsEmerson’s final show of the 2022-23 season, you’re not just invited to experience nora chipaumire’s musical tale of a “Zimbabwean Joan of Arc.”

You’re invited to be a part of it.

Running from May 17-21 at the Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage, audiences can purchase tickets for the orchestra or balcony, as per usual, or they can choose to be on stage, where you’ll be part of the performance. The stage seats are accessible (most will stand, with milk crates for those who choose to sit), and are $20 for the general public, but Emerson community members are eligible to purchase two $10 tickets in advance (or get free rush tickets the day of the show).

“Seeing nora’s work at the ICA, I learned that my favorite way to experience it is to be completely immersed in it,” ArtsEmerson Creative Producer Kevin Becerra said. “She and her collaborators create holistic  environments that transport you deep in the story. As the dancers moved around me, I could feel the music in my body and began to understand the world of the performance beyond a literal understanding of the words being spoken or sung.”

woman in straw cowboy hat speaks into bullhorn
Photo/Sachyn Mital

Nehanda is a spirit venerated by the Shona people who inhabits only women, including Charwe Nyakasikana, who organized the first uprisings against the British colonizers in what was then Southern Rhodesia in 1896-97. The performance is based on the 1898 court case “Regina vs. Nehanda,” between Queen Victoria and Mbuya Nehanda, as she was known.

“With the heightened energy of a political rally and the immense power of a ritual, Nehanda weaves together a powerful portrait of anti-colonial resistance,” says ArtsEmerson.

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