An actor from the South Sudan Theatre Company rehearses for Cymbeline, March 2012.
Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah / Reuters

A young woman lies on the ground, dressed as a boy to keep her safe in a time of war. Standing above her are soldiers in khaki uniforms and warriors wearing the beads of the Dinka and Nuer peoples, bark-cloth skirts made by the Bari tribe, and Lotuka battle helmets fashioned out of spent bullet cartridges. Their homeland has been ravaged by 50 years of civil war, and rape is commonly used as a weapon. The woman’s fate is uncertain; the tension unbearable. Then, one of the warriors recognizes her as his long-lost wife and lifts her in an embrace.

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.