One Man Dancing is a harrowing tale of integrity and endurance. Based on the true story of a young actor growing into artistic maturity in Uganda during the murderous regime of dictator Idi Amin, the action moves in and out of Africa through bizarre encounters with mysterious CIA-like figures and the international world of theatre. Trying to maintain his personal sanity while remaining true to his art, Charles collides constantly with political violence and natural disaster. It is a capricious fate that bounces him from Uganda to Jamaica, from Scandinavia to Canada and back again through this novel of risk and freedom, of political mystery and ultimately through the unravelling of this myth about theatre and faith.
“One Man Dancing is a sympathetic account of Uganda’s troubled post-colonial history and a paean to the heroic figures who struggled to resist the regime and retain their own dignity during tumultuous times while Idi Amin was descending more deeply into barbarism. At the level of history, it’s a chilling story, but it’s also a fascinating study of the role of art in addressing political realities. Patricia Keeney’s account of this struggle is brimming with Eros and Thanatos—the violence, intrigue, passion and deadly love-muddle—inevitable bi-products of living in this world.”
—Gary Geddes, author of Drink the Bitter Root and The Resumption of Play
“This moving story of an African dancer whispers rage in every line. A handbook for future generations interested in African politics, it is also a story of love and the theatre company that inspired it as well as a story of home-grown African dictators and their armies. Though set in the Uganda of Idi Amin, this book is about butchers all across the continent who are unable to face Truth. It is a story of power walking out of a theatre in fury. As an artist who has personally experienced torture, as an African man, I can say that this Canadian woman, Patricia Keeney, has miraculously told only the Truth in this wonderful novel about art and artists.”
—Debebe Eshetu, Former Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and Founding President of the Union of African Performing Artists
“Africa’s theatrical secrets are starting to get out and we are all the better for it. Uganda’s myth-based Abafumi theatre company toured the world in the 1970s to international acclaim while Idi Amin tried to face them down at home. This clash is at the centre of Patricia Keeney’s fine new novel based on the true story of one of the company’s leading performers and his struggles to survive. Well worth-reading for those who know Africa and its theatre and especially good reading for those who are meeting it for the first time.”
—Prof. Emmanuel S. Dandaura, President, Nigerian Centre, International Theatre Institute
“Very interesting to read. Such extraordinary stories and so fascinating to hear insider tales of Uganda under Amin. It does seem a country still living out traumatic heritage in many ways. Also with my researcher hat on, really interesting stories of the history of Ugandan theatre.”
—Jane Plastow, University of Leeds, U.K.
“This bio/fiction brought back a lot of memories. I have been laughing, crying and angry. Charles’ journey through Abafumi is pretty much like our story of Abafumi…but there are many stories to be told. We are all very grateful for what Robert did for us and what we achieved. [Patricia Keeney] has opened the gate for more stories of the great company Abafumi. Our lives have very much depended on it . We are the storytellers, The Abafumi. Thank you for a wonderful novel Pat and putting our memories to life again through Charles.”
—Richard Sseruwagi, Actor and Musician
“Very well conceived and superbly accomplished. Very much a poet’s work too. I love the descriptive power, the sensuous touches, the dramatic resonance; the way the prose takes us so fleetingly through these several moments of tragic history without being ponderous or tedious; the evocative power of the narrative. The African scenes are so vivid and authentic, as are the several art emporia around the world that are featured… I can’t frankly find the words to describe my great pleasure at reading this book.”
—Femi Osofisan, world-renowned Nigerian playwright