The Bearded Doll (“La Poupée barbue”), by Edouard Elvis Bvouma
After his noted Playing War like Playing Gameboy (“À la guerre comme à la Gameboy”), Cameroonian author Edouard Elvis Bvouma again examines the lives of children tormented by civil war in The Bearded Doll, the tale of a sexually-abused young girl.
A major figure in Cameroonian dramatic literature
An author and director born in 1982, Edouard Elvis Bvouma represents Cameroon's literary revival. Winner of numerous writing scholarships and residencies in France, he founded the Zouria Théâtre company in Yaoundé and organises, with Denis Suffo Tagne, the Contextheatral Writing Biennial, a “contemporary construction site for theatrical texts”, which brings together authors from all over the world.
Named best author by the Grands Prix Afrique du Théâtre Francophone in 2008, he won the Prix de l’Inédit d’Afrique et Outremer in 2016 and the SACD Prize for French-speaking dramaturgy for À la guerre comme à la Gameboy (2017), of which a reading was performed at the Avignon Festival.
Civil war through the children’s eyes
Taken into a refugee camp, a teenager escapes to join the young soldier who once saved him. When the young man sleeps she takes the opportunity to open up: she tells the sleeping boy about the abuses she suffered during the civil war.
Forced to join a rebel group, she was the victim of gang rape by the opposing camp on the day of her abduction. Her ordeal continued when her warlord made her his sex toy. And from her abused body, a child is born. A baby that she tried to kill before fleeing.
A child-sized war story
In À la guerre comme à la Gameboy the words of a child soldier ring out, as a silent little girl listens. The fact of having left this female character silent tormented Edouard Elvis Bvouma. With The Bearded Doll, the author imagines creating a sequel to this story of children at war, this time letting a teenager speak.
Walking the razor edge of a narrative full of digressions, allowing himself a measure of black humour, Edouard Elvis Bvouma writes about the shared experience of child soldiers who have been so brutally transformed by war that they have become “bearded dolls”: children with adult-like qualities.
Prix Théâtre RFI
In 2017, The Bearded Doll won the RFI Theatre Prize, which supports the enrichment of contemporary French-language drama from the Southern nations. The chairman of the jury, Dany Laferrière, welcomed “a moving, dark text, which also possesses humour because at the heart of pain, there is a certain comedy”.
This prize offered Edouard Elvis Bvouma the opportunity for an excellent presentation of hs work France: Staged in 2017 by Lorraine De Sagazan at CDN Normandie-Rouen, The Bearded Doll was read at the 2018 Avignon Festival as part of “Ça va, ça va le monde!”
Edouard Elvis Bvouma won the 2017 RFI Theatre Award for The Bearded Doll (“La Poupée barbue”).
With the support of the Institut français, a partner of the prize, the play toured Africa – from Cameroon to Senegal, including Gabon, Togo, Chad, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Benin – in November and December 2018.