Rightnowish: 'Iya Iya's House Of Burning Souls' Offers Healing Through Theater

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Kharyshi Wigington, Ayodele Nzinga and Cat Brooks. (TaSin Sabir)

Iya Iya's House of Burning Souls, a trio of one-woman plays, is all about women's ability to not only heal themselves, but also heal the women in their lineage.

The show addresses body shaming in Kharyshi Wiginton's Too Much Woman For This World; discusses police brutality in Cat Brooks' Tasha; and the illuminates our connections to our ancestors in Glory by Ayodele Nzinga.

"Iya Iya is a Yoruba word for 'grandmother'," Nzinga told as we sat in the basement of the community space Omni Commons in North Oakland.

"When you think of the lineage of North-American Africans, if you believe that post-traumatic stress is encountered before birth and passed on, most grandmothers' houses are full of burning souls," she said.

Nzinga continued, "This work centers very much on North-American African women telling stories designed to heal. Because the world needs healing. It's a lot of brokenness right now, and because if a woman heals herself, she heals every woman in her line before her and every woman in her line after her. That's ipso facto healing a nation."


Nzinga is the head of the production company behind the play, Lower Bottoms Playaz. Through this company, she's been putting on performances in Oakland for over two decades. That's an amazing feat when you consider the instability that comes with running a theater company in Oakland, where space is at a premium and art is often placed at the bottom of the totem pole of priorities.

I talked with Nzinga, as well as Wiginton and Brooks, about the significance of the characters in their plays, as well as the hurdles they had to overcome in order to simply have a space to perform this show.

To hear our conversation, click the link above.

Iya Iya's House of Burning Souls runs through Sept. 22. Details here.