Robert Ssempijja

You judge

Work on the play You judge began with a conversation between Robert and his mother, who still lives in the village in Uganda where Robert grew up. It is an ongoing conversation about his artistic life in Europe, his economic circumstances, his environment, his daily work practice, his audience and much more.My mum who also happens to be my father inspires me a lot. However, there has been a struggle within me for the longest time and it manifests itself in my relationship with her. She is very much bound by the traditions, norms and unwritten laws of her society and community. She will do what seems right in everyday life to make sure not to draw any ill wishes or social punishments over herself and her children. Being from a younger generation, I applaud my mother for all her doing. She has not had an easy life and with all the pressure from the surrounding society, it can't have made it easier to raise two children with no means. I want to please my mother in all this. Maybe I can give some of all her efforts back. I could become a lawyer or doctor as the norm tells me I should strive for. But I don't want that. I want to keep my hair, wear my t-shirt and dance my doctor's career away. Can't my actions speak for themselves? The piece You judge deals with tensions that arise when we evaluate others based on our own expectations – or are evaluated ourselves based on criteria that are foreign to us. Every society tends to be particularly judgmental and close-minded towards those who step out of line. We are all constantly searching for our place in the world: we try to adapt, to understand our different roles and we struggle for acceptance. In You judge, Robert demonstrates the ability of the dancer's body to challenge social norms - and thus reveals dance's inherent emancipatory powers against imposed identity attributions. He challenges the limits imposed on him by the disciplining gaze of others and disrupts, distorts and expands them with each new performance.

Language: English & Luganda

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