Danai Gurira Namechecks Fela, Talks Making Broadway History With 'Eclipsed' On 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert'

Watch Danai Gurira talk 'Eclipsed' on Broadway, Fela Kuti's "Zombie" and more on 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.'

Source: @colbertlateshow Twitter
Danai Gurira stopped by The Late Show this week to talk her play, Eclipsed, making Broadway history.

But first, Colbert had plenty of zombie-related questions for The Walking Dead star. Like, if she needed to survive a zombie apocalypse IRL, would she rather do it where she was born, in Iowa, or Zimbabwe, where she moved to when she was five? (Grinnell, Iowa, was the winner here)

As Colbert pointed out, the thing about The Walking Dead is it’s not really about a zombie apocalypse–it’s about the human condition, with a backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. The Late Show host wondered what that says about the human condition, the fact that “the idea that your friends can turn on you at any minute, and you have to kill them” is such a popular thing in our culture.

Gurira’s response was nothing short of brilliant, and even referenced the great Fela Kuti and one of our all-time favorite songs.

The term ‘zombie’ and what it means sometimes has to do with societal conditioning, are we zombies at times? Are we being conventional in how we respond to things? Are we using our own minds? Or are we being programmed in how we live? Like the song Fela wrote called ‘Zombie’ back in the day… The idea of that, of them seeing people actually lose their consciousness, their minds, but still functioning like human beings, I think it’s something that parallels how we can function in society at times, and so maybe that is something sparking an idea in people’s minds as they watch the show.

As of this week, the actor and playwright has two plays running concurrently on and off Broadway: the Liberian civil war drama Eclipsed, and Familiar, which although fictitious, was very much inspired by its writer's own family and experience as a Zimbabwean-American.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Gurira says about her New York theater district takeover. “Last night I was in [Familiar], I was in Eclipsed, and Familiar was running three streets away at the same time, and it hit me how special this moment is.”

It’s safe to say Danai Gurira is absolutely killing it right now. When Eclipsed debuts next month, it’ll make history as the first all-black, all-women Broadway show.

“There have been plays in the past with all women casts and playwrights, but not with a director as well. So the combination of Liesl Tommy helming it, and then myself writing it, that’s kind of thing that’s really special about it,” Gurira says.

Eclipsed opens March 6 at the Golden Theatre. Find out more about the show's 10,000 Girls Campaign here.

And in even more recent news...


This Compilation Shines a Light On East African Underground Music

We talk to a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation from Uganda's Nyege Nyege.

Nyege Nyege, a label in Kampala, Uganda is channelling the confidence brimming over a whole continent. Africa is no longer the future. For dance music, its time is right now.

Music For the Eagles is a compilation released in conjunction with Soundcloud to showcase the best new acts that East Africa has to offer outside the mainstream. A new wave of artists firmly blasting non-conformist energy for you to spasm to. Music that takes you places. Otim Alpha's high BPM wedding frenzy of incessant rasping vocals accompanied by feverous violin will have you clawing the walls to oblivion. Anti Vairas' dancehall from a battleship with super galactic intentions doesn't even break a sweat as it ruins you. FLO's beautiful sirens call, is a skittish and detuned nursery rhyme that hints at a yearning for love but reveals something far more unnerving. Ecko Bazz's tough spiralling vocal over sub-bass and devil trap energy is an anthem that can only be bewailed. And Kidane Fighter's tune is more trance-like prayer. These are only some of the highlights for you to shake it out to.

We got to chat with a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation as they took a break from the studio below.

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