AWARDS 2020 Nov 2020

London: Michael Wharley

Title: Our Lady of Kibeho

"This image was shot for Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Olivier Award-nominated production of Katori Hall’s play Our Lady of Kibeho.

The shoot was one of my favourite of 2019, but was a tough ask, with the play’s subject being a foreshadowing of the Rwandan genocide: “In 1981 at Kibeho College in Rwanda, a young girl claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary who warned her of the unimaginable: Rwanda becoming hell on Earth. She was ignored by her friends and scolded by her school but then another student saw the vision, and another, and the impossible appeared to be true.”

Our challenge was to create an appealing, ticket-selling image capturing the elements of hope, faith and community that define the play, while also nodding to its eerie themes of possession and religious fundamentalism. I also wanted to create a lighting state that made darker skin tones look fantastic. The play was awards-nominated, and the campaign got a lot of great feedback, so I think designer Rebecca Pitt and I succeeded."

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