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Susan Sarandon hosts a powerful new play about Ugandan child soldiers

By David Cote
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Although Anne Hathaway is currently playing a troubled drone pilot in the Public Theater’s Grounded, and the Culture Project has a movement-theater piece based on a horrific gang rape in India, hard-hitting issue plays are frustratingly rare in New York. So we’re cheered to hear about Forged in Fire, a new work that combines song, dance and storytelling to explore the grim realities of Ugandan child soldiers. The creator of the work knows whereof he speaks: Okello Kelo Sam was abducted and served as a soldier at age 16. According to his bio, “he escaped, earned a college degree in performing arts…and started Hope North, an accredited secondary school in Northern Uganda with a reputed arts program.”

That’s where film star and activist Susan Sarandon steps in. Last year’s Time Out New York guest editor-in-chief is one of Hope North’s biggest supporters, throwing fundraisers at her Chelsea ping-pong bar SPiN and helping to keep the school going.

Thanks to Sarandon’s passion for Sam’s work—she's on the host committee for this New York premiere—Forged in Fire will have six performances at the Voorhees Theatre in Brooklyn May 2–15. Actor Kevin R. Free directs the production. Forged is the tragic story of Sam’s brother, Godfrey, abducted as a child by soldiers of the brutal warlord Joseph Kony. Godfrey was forced to fight, and ultimately died, in Uganda’s civil war. Sam narrates and performs on the adungu, a handmade harp with tribal origins in northern Uganda. For a firsthand account of brotherhood, war and survival, get your tickets to Forged in Fire now. 

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