Why The Birds Sing To Me (Uganda)

Why The Birds Sing To Me

Music composed by Jeffrey Weeks Harrison

While living overseas in Uganda, I began composing for musical theatre productions by the Kampala Amateur Dramatics Society (KADS). Later on, I moved to Gulu in the north where my wife was working with the United Nations. It was while in Gulu that Katie suggested that we write a musical drama about the civil war in northern Uganda. Set during wartime northern Uganda, “Why The Birds Sings To Me” depicts the story of the children who were abducted and later returned to their communities. It was a fusion of the Broadway musical and African oral storytelling, featuring Acholi dance, song, and metaphor. So that is where “Why The Birds Sing To Me” began and was first performed. The show was performed for the Princess of Denmark on her visit to Gulu and later on at Gulu University. The cast and crew went on a road trip to perform the show at the National Theater in Kampala.

Producing this musical drama was memorable in so many ways. First, it was a great pleasure to work with the cast of young actors. I cannot thank them enough for their commitment to rehearsals and performances. Their genuine, heartfelt performances will not be forgotten. Many of them had never acted or sang in front of a live audience, but they did so in these performances with great passion and courage. I got to know what it was to produce a musical from the ground up. With very little outside financial support, we relied on the desire and commitment of the cast and crew to tell their people’s story. Second, I have come to a greater understanding about the war and how the people struggled. The story of these children reveals a deep need for healing and reconciliation, for the prevention of violence against children, and the promotion of human rights. Some of the cast members mentioned that they had been abducted and forced to fight as child soldiers.
You will see photos on this page of some of the cast in rehearsals. If you wish to see a demo from the show you may view the video.The drama weaves tragedy, love, betrayal, hope, redemption, and healing in a lively, magical and soulful performance.