In a world that is constantly changing through modernization, youth culture is also evolving with many young people stuck in the middle as they transition from children to adulthood.
In their struggle to fit in the society, many find themselves experimenting with drugs, alcohol and sex, making them vulnerable to addiction and diseases. Social development agents and institutions are relentlessly calling on young people to develop knowledge and skills to deal with the temptations and dangers associated with peer pressure.
Meet Sammy Gideon Wetala, a young Ugandan student who believes that the secret to remaining sober amidst the confusions of the world is by holding on to the word of God, and seeking His guidance in every step.
I caught up with him at the Kampala International Theatre Festival (KITF) after the reading (the first reading he tells me) of his first play, ‘Two Faces’. Tall, well-built and fine-looking, Wetala accords me a few minutes to go through his creative work before he proceeds to other engagements of the day. He was among the youths who showcased their artwork at the event.
KITF: What is the story behind Two Faces?
Wetala: It is the story of desperation in a society that many people are in need of decent jobs. Set at a ‘VIP bar’, the story revolves around three characters: a jobless man, a waiter, and a Member of Parliament. I feel like many people aspire to get into politics because politicians have made their work ‘admirable’ through their flashy lifestyles. Moreover, the story is a political parody which shows a society that is quick to adopt systems, corrupt as they may, to sustain their lives when push comes to shove.
KITF: Why ‘Two Faces’? How did the title come about?
Wetala: Every person has two sides which translate to two faces. In every person’s soul thrives goodness and evil, only time and situations determine which side will be dominant.
KITF: I realized that your characters were all male. Did you deliberately plan that to happen? Would the story have changed if it had been relayed by a female character?
Wetala: No. Not necessarily. I feel that the story needed to be told without a female character. Actually, initially, I only had two characters; the waiter and the jobless man. Eventually, I decided to bring in the Member of Parliament because he also plays a major role in propelling the story.
KITF: This being the first reading of your play, what suggestions have you received? How will you approach them?
Wetala: The gender issue came up a lot. While, I understand where they are coming from and respect their views, I still believe the play did not require a female character for it to stand out. When it comes to incorporating a female character into the play, I will possibly not change anything, but I hear their concerns.
KITF: Where do you see yourself in two years?
Wetala: Being an actor and a writer as well, I want to develop these two areas in future. Writing is my first love, so I plan to continue developing this dimension. I am inspired by Tyler Perry’s films. In future, I wish to venture into script writing to produce content aimed at promoting Christian values. I am also interested in developing a production house and a studio.
KITF: What is your advice to upcoming playwrights?
Wetala: I have six things for them: read, read, read, write, write and write. (He concludes with a chuckle).
Photo : Frobisher Lwanga (Two Faces) | Celma Costa