Guest Blog: Nancy Ofori Geywu on Kind of Woman

In this blog post, Nancy Ofori Geywu talks about the process of creating her new project through exploring themes of love, emotional abuse and Ghanaian culture. 

Kind of Woman is playing on 7th & 8th June at 7:15pm as part of our Calm Down, Dear feminist Festival. Click here for more info.

Kind of Woman was born out of anger and confusion when I fully realised the abusive nature of a past relationship. The strange things that had happened began to resurface and I understood that the way that I’d been treated and made to feel incredibly uncomfortable and unsure of myself, was not okay.

I never thought that playing around, exploring themes of love, emotional abuse and Ghanaian culture would become Kind of Woman. It’s my first solo piece that I have written and I had to redraft and mull over things A LOT. Not only because writing is hard in itself but because I was writing about something personal and hard to grasp. How far do I go with what I want to tell?

I talked to one of my closest friends about my experiences and she told me that it sounded like I’d been gaslighted. I had never in my life heard the term gaslighting before so after our conversation, I became obsessed with learning about emotional abuse. There were so many different articles, books and YouTube videos of people explaining things that I had felt but not understood. It was like all the pieces fell into place and I needed to do something with my thoughts.

With this show, I want to contribute to the discussion around emotional abuse and the struggles of regaining a sense of self after being gaslighted and manipulated by someone you love.  For me, the emotional abuse was something that I could definitely feel happening in the moment but it wasn’t until after the relationship was over that I could see the whole picture. I had so many questions. Who are they really? Why did they keep me around if I was so useless? Am I remembering it right?

I was also very interested in delving into my heritage and learning more. I remember hearing about a traditional Ghanaian puberty ritual that girls go through when they get their first period. I became interested in the message of the ritual, and how culture and tradition changes over time. I called my mum after a day of R&D and asked her about it. We had a long conversation and she said that she actually did part of it for me when I got my first period – I had no memory of it. After this conversation I knew that this would be an interesting aspect that I definitely wanted to run parallel with the exploration of emotional abuse.

In the ritual, the queen mother supervises the ceremony. To me, she seems like the ultimate matriarch and I wanted to explore the wisdom, tough love and strength that I’ve seen and experienced growing up around Ghanaian women, and that’s how the character of Grandma Dorcas was born. Because of the more serious themes of the play, she also became a great way to introduce comedy and play with storytelling traditions from Ghana that I find really interesting.

The show is essentially a coming of age story where we see someone going through the process of having to make sense of their partners behaviour, and their own. Realising the importance of self-reflection and speaking up. I’ve found that taking time to think about who you let into your circle (and why) is so important because if you don’t, people with toxic personalities can effectively damage your mental health and self-image in real life, and online. It took me a long time to understand the importance of saying no and having boundaries. It took even longer starting to practice these things, not just saying that I would…

Ama, the main character that we follow goes through an emotional rollercoaster and I want the audience to be on that journey with her, whilst simultaneously getting glimpses of her past with her mother, what shaped her – and her grandmother’s wisdom (and good cooking) that is waiting for her, always.

I would really love for you to come and see my work-in-progress performances if you have ever felt like you haven’t been listened to or respected. If you have ever felt pressure to please someone, and as a result compromised your own needs in the process. Most importantly, I’d love for you to come if you have recently decided to put your own needs first – and not feeling sorry for doing so because that’s definitely something to celebrate! I can’t wait to see you there!