Afua Yansa is aching to flee her poverty-stricken Ghanaian village for the city of Accra, where she hopes to attend University and someday become a teacher. But as the price of crops from the family farm plummets, Afua is told she must quit school, work on the farm, and marry her father’s last farmhand, Edward. Afua is distraught at seeing her plans dashed and decides to follow her heart and run off to Accra with her best friend Balinda, even though neither of them has ever left home before.
In Accra they receive help from Caesar, a wealthy jewelry merchant who is a contact of Balinda’s father. Balinda hopes Caesar will want to marry her and offer her a new life, but Caesar’s plan—he is also the owner of an upscale brothel—is to showcase the girls as prize merchandise.
Afua faces physical and emotional dangers with a rollercoaster of brave, humbling, painful, and exhilarating choices as she fights to escape the situation, and Edward overcomes his own fears of leaving the village to attempt to find the two young women.
All three—Afua, Balinda, and Edward—are transformed by this journey, and you will be, too.
After a well-received world premiere at Village Theatre, the Drum creative team has continued to reshape and refine the show. The team is now looking for theaters/producers who will share their passion for this material, giving the team an opportunity to incorporate further feedback from West African advisors and industry experts and bringing future productions to a wide audience.
The musical was born out of composer Phillip Palmer's trips to South Africa and Ghana to study traditional music and volunteer at an HIV/AIDS counseling center. He later teamed up with award-winning librettist Jennie Redling, who has worked as a certified rape-crisis/sexual-assault counselor, and award-winning lyricist Stacey Luftig. Throughout the process, the team has consulted with Ghanaian artists, included celebrated novelist Ayesha H. Attah.
Drum has been developed at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, where all three collaborators are members. Jennie Redling received the Jerry Harrington Award for Creative Excellence from BMI for her work on the book. Stacey Luftig and Phillip Palmer were awarded the Jerry Bock Award from BMI for the score.
The show was presented at the 2013 National Alliance for Musical Theater (NAMT) Festival of New Musicals and further developed at the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals and as part of the Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals. After a developmental production at Kent State University, Drum had its world premiere at Village Theatre in spring of 2016.