Maïmouna Hélène Diarra              

Originally published in Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film Video and Television by Beti Ellerson. Africa World Press, Trenton, NJ,  2000. Interview by Beti Ellerson during FESPACO 1997, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; includes written correspondence during May 1998.  Translated from French.

Maïmouna, could you talk about yourself and your background?


    My name is Maïmouna Hélène Diarra.  I was born in Segou, Mali.  I have a DEF (Diplôme d'Etudes Fondamentales) and a Diplome d'Etudes Theatrales after four years of study at the Institut National des Arts, in the dramatic art section.  I am an actor by profession and I am host and producer at the ORTM, Office de Radio et Télé-diffusion du Mali.

You have an impressive background in the theater.  How did you become interested?

    I do not know quite how to explain how this all came about.  I remember I was still in primary school when one day I was fascinated by the theatrical representations of the Groupe Dramatique National du Mali that was touring throughout the various regions of Mali.

You stated that you did formal studies in theater.  Did you first study theater and then join the group?

    Yes, after receiving a diploma in theater at the Institut National d'Art of Mali I spent ten years on stage with the National Drama Group commonly called the "Koteba of Mali."

How did you come to join the drama group?

    After I completed my DEF exams I indicated that I wanted to study at the INA in the Dramatic Arts section.  It was during my studies at the INA that this same group, the Groupe Dramatique National du Mali, discovered me while working on our play "Gouverneur de la Rosée by Armand Dreyfus, my professor of theater at the time.  I was in my second year when the group requested that I come to work with them after I completed my studies.
    Unfortunately, I was not able to complete my studies at the scheduled time because of a strike followed by the suspension of the students. The entire establishment was closed until further notice.  However, the group was very anxious to have me and requested that I sign a contract, so I worked with them for two years.  After the student suspension period was over I received my diploma and officially became part of the drama group.

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