M’ap Boulé by Haitian Australian performer Nancy Denis and presented by Urban Theatre Projects (Utp) has been called “a unique blend of lyrical storytelling and powerful songwriting.”
M’ap Boulé, is Haitian Krèole for ‘I’m on fire’ and is an apt title as the performance is set against the backdrop of the anti-colonial slave-led revolution against their French colonial masters, it set the country ablaze. Fire birthed the Republic of Haiti .
The Haitian Revolution is particularly important to Greeks as it inspired the them to rise against the 400 year Ottoman Turkish colonial rule. Important, because the nascent Republic of Haiti was the first nation to recognise the Greek War of Independence in 1821.
Haitian Australian artist Nancy Denis said in a statement released by the company, that M’ap Boulé was “inspired and fuelled” by her “ancestors’ spirit.”
“The Haitian revolution the largest and most successful slave rebellions in the Western Hemisphere, the first Black Republic and has played a huge role in shaping Haitian culture”
“M’ap Boulé is an expression of my journey on the search of belonging in a colonized country,” Denis said.
The work was directed by Anthea Williams and it tells the story of Nancy Denis as a child of immigrant parents growing up in Australia.
Kiri Zakinthinos the General Manager of Utp said M’ap Boulé, told Neos Kosmos that the work is relevant to all Greek Australians, not only because of the historic connection between Greece and Haiti but the shared story of migration.
“Stories of migration and settlement, of displacement, belonging and of the changing nature of our identities are integral to the broader Australian story.”
“Nancy Denis’ work may be a personal one, but the political and the universal will resonate with the Greek-Australian community.”
Zakinthinos said told Neos Kosmos that she was “privileged and proud to work for a company like Utp” a company she said has a “rich history of making new work that is relevant and socially responsive.”
“We support artists with a range of lived experiences, including artists from migrant backgrounds, to tell their own stories on their own terms”.
In 1821 the Greek revolutionary leader and intellectual, Adamantios Korais was so inspired with Haiti’s rise to independence he asked for the new nation’s support.
In a letter to the then-President of Haiti Jean Pierre Boyer, Korais expressed his “admiration for the bravery of the former slaves who defeated the French.
President Boyer expressed the enthusiasm of the Haitian people for the outbreak of the Revolution, but declared his inability to help the Greeks financially, wishing at the same time victories similar to those in the battles of Marathon and Salamis.
“We, like the Hellenes, were for a long time subjected to a dishonourable slavery and finally, with our own chains, broke the head of tyranny,” Boyer wrote to Korais.
His letter was is the first recognition of the Revolution by a leader of an independent State.
Boyer did something ingenous, he sent 25 tons of Haitian coffee, an expensive and much sought-after product at that period, to be sold and the profits to be used to purchase weapons for the Greeks, who Boyer called “the descendants of Leonidas.”
It should be said that both Haitian and freed African American slaves joined in the fight in to free Greece from the Ottomans.
M’ap Boulé is on December 6-9 at the Eternity Playhouse – 39 Burton St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010