Kampala International Theatre Festival kicks off this evening (Wednesday 23, November 2016) at Ndere Centre. I’ve been here since Monday, getting a feel of some of the productions that are being prepared and cannot wait to see how they turn out on stage. I’ve been witness to how Achiro P Olwoch’s script for “The Surrogate” is taking on human form, how Obehi Janice’s training on storytelling and solo performance will look on the actors, how authentic the actors will turn out after gruelling emotional acting sessions with Kemiyondo Coutinho. You need to come to Ndere all the five days because there are things you must consider. At least 5 of them.
1.How to Say Amen.
The first reaction we shall be expected to have is “Amen”. The Festival this year kicks off with a performance by Peter Kagayi and Friends titled “The Audience Must Say Amen.” Kagayi has been on a steady rise as one of Kampala’s, if not East Africa’s more eminent spoken word poets. Kagayi loves to speak his conscience out loud but this would be nothing without his adroit spoken word. This performance is birthed from his anthology “The Headline That Morning” which explores a range of issues, from personal to societal. He will be performing with friends so come enjoy the poet’s mind in the spoken word of his own mouth and friends’.
It is showing tonight at 7pm in the Main Auditorium and on Saturday at 4pm.
2. “I am not asking you to cry, I am asking you to feel.”
Kemiyondo Coutinho, or as she’s more commonly called “Kemi”, can be identified as a rising force in the arts world here at home in Uganda. She currently hosts a monthly show called “A Ka Dope”, in where she refers to herself as an “artpreneur”. However, for those who’ve heard of Kemi before, you realise she is foremost an actor, a screenwriter and playwright. Having witnessed her as an acting teacher during the week’s workshops on “Stripping Acting from Our Acting”, you get the idea her performances come from a very authentic place even if they are performances. While taking her students through a session she insists “I am asking you to feel, not to cry”. Her play “Kawuna…You’re It!…” will be showing twice in the Main Auditorium, first on Thursday 24th November at 5pm, and on Friday 25th November at 9:00pm.
3. Is surrogacy a thing?
It’s always a nervy affair when art talks about the “deplorable” things in society. Plays have an uncanny way of exposing a lot of our cultural and societal inconsistencies or conservative hard headedness. This is in no way me trying to give you a bias about Achiro P Olwoch’s play, “The Surrogate”. It deals with an interesting problem : What are the implications of a young woman whose mother wants her to get married, getting pregnant out of wedlock to a homosexual man? There will be a reading on Friday 25th November at 5pm in the Upper Restaurant shortly followed by an interactive discussion.
4. Stories that make you feel like fish out of water.
Doreen Baingana’s award winning “Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe” is coming to the stage. Having read the short story collection and being vividly transported into the lives of three sisters growing up into adulthood, it will be interesting to see how it comes off on stage. Doreen handles a host of issues from HIV, to family, religion, the economy while remaining simple and relatable but at the same time being very unafraid to say the things many in the culture might not want to say.
It shows in the Conference Hall tonight at 9pm (followed by a conversation) and on Friday at 8pm.
5. It gets more wretched than Frantz Fanon.
It’s the title that gets me. It’s a little similar to Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” and makes me wonder if the writer did that intentionally or not. Nonetheless, 3 days of watching the cast of the play pour themselves into the production, I can’t help but feel that maybe some issues are the same everywhere. William Chewe Musonda is talking about ills in the society in Zambia but the more the cast rehearse, the more it looks like home. And the more I think about Frantz and his thoughts on the effects of colonisation on the human society.
I am looking forward to watching it.
It shows on Thursday at 3pm in the Upper Restaurant and will be followed by a conversation.
There are more thoughts to ponder these five days. Check out the full schedule of performances here.