Broadway Actress, Wambui Bahati, Commemorates 15th Anniversary of One-Woman Play, I Am Domestic Violence

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After scheduling a one-time performance for YWCA in 1998 for “a week without violence,” Bahati continues to find audiences requesting the electrifying, one-act play that portrays the revolting realities of domestic violence.

Wambui Bahati

Named John Ann Washington at birth, Wambui Bahati is her new legal name taken on during the "reinvention of herself." In Swahili Wambui means "singer of songs," Bahati means, "my fortune is good."

Through both book and stage she strives to help create space for young adults to engage in an open dialogue, while reminding them that there is never a reason to stay in an abusive relationship.

Wambui Bahati, a former New York University School of the Arts student and Broadway actress appearing in productions of Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, wrote the original script for I Am Domestic Violence in 1998. Although it was meant to be a customized piece that would encourage women of the YWCA to take action against violence, it quickly became a regularly requested show she added to her repertoire. This upcoming year marks Wambui’s 15th anniversary of sharing hope and education on domestic violence through her one-woman play.

I Am Domestic Violence is a raw, but gripping portrayal of personified domestic violence and the effects it has upon everyday people. Alongside a single standing hat rack, Wambui uses various coats and blouses to assume the role of different characters, which each illustrate that domestic violence is no respecter of person. Bahati pleads on behalf of the victims, "Somebody run and tell somebody, this ain't how it's supposed to be." In the last 15 years, two characters have been added to the original five; one is Dorothy who tells a story of elder abuse and the second is Anna who is a high school bully.

As abuse statistics of young women are becoming more alarming every day, Wambui has found some of her most memorable venues on college campuses. In 2010 Wambui authored, Domestic Violence and Relationship Abuse Awareness and Prevention for College Women—A Reminder. Through both book and stage she strives to help create space for young adults to engage in an open dialogue, while reminding them that there is never a reason to stay in an abusive relationship.

Performances of I Am Domestic Violence are often followed by a talkback workshop in which Bahati shares about the real stories behind the characters and her personal experiences with domestic violence, “I had been presenting the show for many years before I admitted that some of the stories presented were my own true stories. It's interesting. You see, even though I was sharing this one particular story… I was still in denial that it had really happened to me. I had spent many years pretending that it had not.”

Beverly Lewis, M.S., Director of Student Activities at Forsyth Technical Community College, recalls her first screening of the play and her most recent in October 2012, “In 1999, I attended an event at the YWCA in High Point, NC. I had no idea that I was witnessing the first of what would become a national phenomenon… It was as inspiring, life-changing, thought-provoking, and relevant then, as it is now.”

Although the performance is stark in its portrayal of abuse, Wambui overshadows her work with faith and expectancy, “The one impression I wish to leave upon my audience is that they are more wonderful, powerful and magnificent than they give themselves credit for.”

Named John Ann Washington at birth, Wambui Bahati is her new legal name taken on during the "reinvention of herself." In Swahili Wambui means "singer of songs," Bahati means, "my fortune is good." Wambui's regional and touring credits include starring roles in The Magic Show, Joseph Papp's rock version of Two Gentlemen of Verona, Little Ham, Nunsense, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, Gone With the Wind –the musical, The Wiz and Crowns. She wrote, produced and stars in the one-woman musical Balancing Act and I Am Domestic Violence, both of which have received national acclaim for providing outstanding entertainment while dealing with important community issues. The native North Carolinian lives in New York City and has authored Domestic Violence and Relationship Abuse Awareness and Prevention for College Women—A Reminder, the autobiographical empowerment book, You Don’t Know Crazy—My Life Before, During, After, Above and Beyond Mental Illness, and They Are Not Going to Save Us.

For information on booking Wambui Bahati, please contact The Gig Bureau at http://www.gigbureau.com.

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Vanessa Lengyel
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