Deborah Asiimwe's Cooking Oil in Los Angeles!

Cooking Oil is a musically woven play by award-winning playwright Deborah Asiimwe, brought to life by an East African ensemble and director Emily Mendelsohn.
Miranda Wright
Los Angeles, California
United States
4 Team Members

Cooking Oil will perform at the ATX Warehouse in Los Angeles June 6-9, 2013.  Your support is invaluable!  

"Cooking Oil" is a musically woven play by award-winning Ugandan playwright Deborah Asiimwe that's coming to Los Angeles this May/June. The story is brought to life by an East African ensemble and director Emily Mendelsohn.
More than a play, it's an international collaboration between artists in East Africa and the U.S. to spark global conversations about complex socio-political issues.  Members of "Cooking Oil's" Ugandan and Rwandan ensembles will come to Los Angeles for a three-week residency at the Atwater Crossing (ATX) warehouse culminating in the U.S. premiere of "Cooking Oil." We are inviting the Los Angeles community to join the artists in a dialogue initiative with discussions about how Americans perceive Africa, foreign aid in "developing countries," women's education and rights, and the role of the arts in social change. A mutual exchange, we'll ask audiences to consider how these same issues manifest in Los Angeles.

About Cooking Oil 

In "Cooking Oil," a village reckons with the murder of a young girl who, along with a powerful politician, sold free aid to their village. The story unravels as the storytellers come to face their own complicity. Layering traditional and contemporary music, dance, chant, and images and material of aid, this production playfully interrogates in/dependence and the gaze of a suffering Other.
"Cooking Oil" performed at the National Theatre of Uganda in October 2010 and as part of the Centre x Centre Festival in Rwanda in August 2011.  Our team completed a recent workshop of the project in Kampala, Uganda in August 2012 at the In Movement Center for Art & Social Justice.  
In May/June 2013, "Cooking Oil" will be performed by an international cast in a theater-in-the-round setting specially built in the ATX Warehouse allowing the audience to become deeply immersed in the story. By coming to Los Angeles, "Cooking Oil" continues its goals of international collaboration and reciprocal exchange.

Help Us Bring Cooking Oil to Los Angeles 

Your donations will make it possible for us to bring the Ugandan and Rwandan casts to Los Angeles for three weeks where they will participate in a residency and rehearsals followed by the U.S. premiere of "Cooking Oil" at Atwater Crossing (ATX). The cast and crew will also engage local organizations, universities, community groups and others in dialogues about key issues in "Cooking Oil."

This project has received initial funding from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, which will allow us to travel four artists from East Africa to Los Angeles for this residency.  We are still in need of funding for five additional collaborators who hope to join us in LA this summer, as well as basic production materials for the play.  

Your contribution will directly benefit travel for international artists and minimal production expenses.  We can use all of the help we can get- so the more contributions are made, the more able we will be to bring the rest of our company- an additional $15,000 expense.  

In exchange for your support, we are excited to offer you rewards that will deepen your relationship to Cooking Oil; our artists, public dialogues, and our developing joint aesthetic.  Our visiting performers will bring hand-made jewelry and our director is assembling a DIY children's book version of the play.  And, we are offering two forms of dining with our company!  


"For the past three years, we have been engaged in a conversation that asks deep provoking questions about the relationship between countries that receive aid and countries that give aid. As artists and performers from both these worlds, we question whether the relationship between these countries is equitable, whether the relationship between ourselves as individuals coming from different socio-political and economical backgrounds brought together in the same space by our artistic sensibilities is equitable. “Cooking Oil” has been our compass as we continue to engage with these questions.

The role and place of performance and the arts in the whole debate of democracy, good governance in Sub Saharan Africa, and the whole culture of “receiving” has never been more crucial than it is now. As the internet continues to shrink the world and force us to look one other in the eye and see our own complacency in the prevailing narratives of how the north (America and the west) views the south (Africa) and vice versa; where do we stand as artists? As collaborators on this project, we have allowed our cultures to collide, and as a result, a different narrative informed by an aesthetic we have formed, is being told. Presenting this play in Los Angeles is coming full circle for me, where the writing of “Cooking Oil” all began. We hope that you will be able to join us in this conversation, to support a different narrative, a narrative of peace and reconciliation of cultures and inter-dependence we are trying to tell. Thank you for your generosity and for traveling with us on this journey!"

Deborah Asiimwe, Playwright


Our Team:

Deborah Asiimwe, Playwright

Emily Mendelsohn, Director

Shannon Scrofano, Production Design

Stella Atal, Costume Design

Aubree Lynn, Associate Designer

Miranda Wright, Producer

Rosalind Helfand, Producer, Public Dialogues

Albert Mubiru and Julius Lugaaya, EA Producers

CAST: Esther Tebandeke (UG), Tonny Muwangala (UG), Mazimpaka Jones Kennedy (RWA), Kaya Kagimu Mukasa (UG), Kagusuuru Allen (UG), Kamanzi Samuel (RWA), Nzayisenga Sophie (RWA).   


Find This Campaign On
raised by 53 people in 1 month
41% funded
No time left
$8,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on April 6, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Post Card & BIG THANKS

    For $10, we'll send you a signed post card, with a cooking oil image for your fridge door, plus a listing in our program.

    14 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $25USD
    Cooking Oil Soundrack

    For $25, we will send you exclusive downloads of the music featured in Cooking Oil, performed by an international ensemble. You'll also receive a post card, and thanks in the program.

    13 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $50USD
    Pendant + Soundtrack

    For $50, you will receive the music downloads, plus Esther Tebandeke will make you a Cooking Oil bottle cap pendant. Esther makes jewelry out of recycled materials in Kampala.

    4 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $100USD
    Children's Book & Tickets

    For $100, you will receive a DIY children's book version of the play, crafted by director Emily Mendelsohn. We'll also provide you with two tickets for the performance date of your choice!

    3 out of 12 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $250USD
    VIP Dinner & Opening Party

    For your contribution of $250, you will receive one VIP ticket for Cooking Oil on Friday, June 7, plus a full dinner at the Atwater Crossing Kitchen- to be enjoyed with our full company of artists! Yes, dessert included.

    0 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $500USD
    Rehearsal + African Tea Party

    For $500, we will invite you, plus up to three guests, to a private rehearsal (date of your choice). During our break, you'll join our company for African tea, samosas, and conversation.

    0 out of 6 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Ugandan Dinner

    For $1,000, four members of our company will travel to your home (within Los Angeles) to prepare an authentic Ugandan dinner for you and up to seven guests. We promise to impress!

    0 out of 4 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
Do you think this campaign contains prohibited content? Let us know.