Interview with Lloyd Lutara

By Joel Benjamin Ntwatwa

When I saw the Kampala International Theatre Festival Catalogue for this year, there was a story I was sure I didn’t want to miss, mostly because of who wrote and worked on it and knowing a little of their journey. Lloyd Lutara is a Ugandan storyteller, with works in film and written fiction. I picked his mind about his newest storytelling experience and what it meant for him.

1. Could you share a bit of your writing journey?

I’ve been writing in some shape or form since I was very young. Thought I would grow up to be a novelist, a man of letters. But as time went on I realized that it was not words I was in love with but stories. And so it has been the telling of stories that I have pursued, in whatever form they may take. Yes, writing is the form of story telling that comes most naturally to me but as more time has passed it has gone from being the finished house to being the blue print on which I build that house on.

2. What led you to theatre, to KITF in particular or do you believe theatre and tv production are more or less the same?

I had just completed production on two very fulfilling but very exhausting film projects and wanted to pour myself into something different, add a new tool to my box and theatre seemed the most natural direction to take. Because I was taking on something new and wanted an eviroment where I could learn, develop and surround myself with people who would support me in this process KITF appealed to me as the most obvious fit.

3. How did you feel during the refinement of the play? During the stages it went through till you felt it was ready for the stage? What were your reactions after the staging?

Watching the play evolve from what I first submitted for workshopping to what was eventually staged has been exciting and reaffirming. But as much as this is the case I would be lying to you if I said I felt it was ready for staging, only ready enough. I walked into the reading with my pen and pad ready to take notes for the next step of the writing process.

Afterwards I was able to identify the things I felt worked (among them my choice of cast and director who did an impeccable job) the things that didn’t and being able to interact with people who were present was very helpful.

4. What was your experience working with Angella Emurwon on your play?

I’ve been a fan and big admirer of Angella and her work for a very long time and so getting the chance to work with her has been a dream come true. She’s an incredible fountain of knowledge and talent and being able to work with her has meant being able to learn from her, something I feel truly blessed to experience.

5. Your play is an adaptation of a classic (Francis Imbuga’s Betrayal in the City) with very political implications. Why that story? What lesson are you aiming for, if any?

With everything that is going on politically, not just here at home but across the continent, I feel the story was begging to be told again. I didn’t want to just repeat what Francis Imbuga said though (because I would never be able to say it as well as he did) but wanted to add my voice to his. As for a lesson, I can’t say I’m aiming for one but I am posing two questions;
1. If we keep on going the way we’re going where are we likely to end up? and
2. Are we OK with this?

6. What are your thoughts about KITF in general?

I think what KITF is doing is amazing and very much needed. The opportunity to not only develop new work but also to engage with productions and their creators from all over the world has been incredible. I hope that in the future more Ugandan creatives will chase after the opportunities that KITF offers.

7. Any advice to writers/ playwrights?

Just to write authentically, fearlessly and without ego.

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