Miss Julie's Happy Valley
Date 26th – 29th August
Kenya's colonial days, immortalized by Karen Blixen,
were scandalized by 'the 'Happy Valley Set', a group of ultra-privileged
aristocrats who were famed for their debauched hedonistic lifestyle,
living in the "White Highlands" of British Kenya between 1920s - 1940s.
Playwright Michael Omoke's Miss Julie's Happy Valley reimagines August
Strindberg's classic Miss Julie ( 1888, Sweden ) to take cognizance of
the "White Highlands" of British Kenya.
The adaptation unravels the tragic, scandalous, and dubious stories surrounding the 'Happy Valley Set'. It uses Miss Julie, the play's fictitious tragic heroine character, as a portrait of Alice de Janzé, a non-fictitious American heiress who became a countess by marriage into French aristocracy before migrating to British Kenya in 1923 where she notoriously thrived as a member of the colony's 'Happy Valley Set' and tragically committed suicide in 1941.
Through the years Countess Alice de Janzé had been conducting a secret affair with Happy Valley's unelected leader, Lord Erroll, who was found dead in his Buick on the morning of 28th Jan 1941 at the junction of Karen and Ngong road, Nairobi. To this date, 80 years later, nobody has ever been convicted of the murder of Lord Erroll and while the court proceedings captured world imagination, by laying bare the sexual scandals and on-goings of this small community of white settlers, Happy Valley in all it's decadence continues to act as a decoy to cover something deeper and wider.
A seminar refracting iconic Swedish playwright
August Strindberg's Miss Julie from an Apartheid and
Colonial era's perspective. The purpose is to trace historic
European migration patterns as they settled in Africa of
the early 20th century
Through Strindberg's dominant "class" theme we shall further be examining the untold stories of Nordic citizens ( Besides Karen Blixen ) who saw fit to call Africa their home
The questions of concern shall be : What was their relationship with the "natives", what was their position during the Apartheid Era, how did they view colonialism, what did they pioneer, and much much more.