Goodwill Aids Visit by American Star

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By Frederick Philander

WINDHOEK

Hollywood film and television star and singer, Sheryl Lee Ralph and her two-man crew arrived in the country on Sunday on a four-day performance visit with her one-woman Aids play, Some Times I Cry.

Yesterday, the star of the original Broadway musical stage production of Dream Girls candidly spoke about her work and a three-nation visit to South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, considered to have very high Aids rates.

“I founded the Diva Foundation to empower women 18 years ago to raise HIV/Aids awareness, and erase stigma attached to HIV/Aids. The play is a collection of true sad stories of women infected and affected by Aids in the United States,” Ralph said.

She has been to Nigeria, Gabon, Senegal and Lesotho with the 80-minute play that she has written and performs herself.

“I perform this play anywhere I get invited to not only in big theatres, but also in community and school halls. In fact, recently I was asked why I do not stage the work on Broadway and my answer was that it is a work for those who cannot afford to pay high theatre fees to attend to be educated,” she said of the work in which she becomes each character breathing life into them and their stories by exploring through word and song just how each woman copes with her new HIV/Aids reality.

“I think the billions of dollars against Aids the Bush administration has pumped into Africa is a very positive effort to help combat the pandemic and we as Americans can learn from the African experience on Aids. The play brought tears to many audience members during performances in Cape Town.

Sometimes I Cry will be performed tonight at the Warehouse Theatre and tomorrow at Windhoek High School at 18h00.

Ralph has also launched a new initiative, A Sister’s Circle, in Cape Town during her short stay in South Africa last week.

“This unprecedented three-nation goodwill summit for HIV/Aids infected and affected women and girls will bring together women and girls from South Africa and the United States, to grapple with the most pressing challenges facing African and American women in the HIV/Aids epidemic and examine its unique effect on women. The summit will recognise the critical role that women and girls can and must play in their own health and well-being,” she said.

During the next few days, the star of movies such as To Sleep with Anger and Barbershop will meet local health professionals, Government, non-governmental and women leaders, visit HIV/Aids community-based and faith-based organisations and will also hold a workshop for young Namibian actors at the College of the Arts.

“Naturally, I am always on the look out for original Aids stories by women and girls to be written and for possible incorporation in any future works. I will also, in future, be more than willing to avail the script of Some Times I Cry for localised performances,” the American star said.

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