Stories Bring People Together : Unveiling 4th Edition of Kampala International Theatre Festival

By Joel Benjamin Ntwatwa

The 4th edition of the Kampala International Theatre Festival kicked off yesterday. Overlooking Kampala atop The Square Place, Deborah Asiimwe Kaawe gave opening remarks as guests enjoyed the meats and drinks the opening cocktail provided.

A great deal can happen in 4 years. The creative collaboration between The Sundance Institute and Bayimba was initially biased to East African countries. For two years now, works are admitted from the whole world and the term International and Kampala are looking clearer and clearer together. The festival this year comprises plays from USA, China, Bulgaria and Kenya as well as Uganda. There is a confluence of ideas, creativity and meditations all here in Kampala.

A walk through the corridors at the venue and a look at the catalogue could say one thing; stories bring people together.  There were poets, photographers, videographers, designers, renown directors and playwrights, actors and more. When the corridors are filled with not just the Okuyo’s of this age but the Wawuyo’s who’ve been around thirty years and more, you feel an appreciation of the work going on behind the scenes for the festival. Bringing this together takes a certain level of collaboration. However, not just collaboration, investment (Partners like Africalia, OSIA, USA for Africa, Doen, Safe Boda etc…).  And I feel theatre as a whole can be understood better with events such as this festival.

The productions are not just philosophical things. They are also fun things.  Things that children too, for example, would love and identify with. Case in point “The Prince and the Rose” where we see the actor transform into a clown (not the IT kind) but one that talks of living with the imagination of youth, without the problems of adulthood.

The Square Place itself as a venue, a move from last year’s  Ndere Troupe presents the fact that times change, situations change, locations change…However the new venue presents a creative challenge – it is not organically a theatre space but is being transformed into one. Seeing the creativity behind the locations and spaces for different stages shows you creativity goes hand in hand with things we might find unassociated with it, like architecture, design etc.

Deborah, the festival director’s vision as far as the festival goes is to have “…a platform that gives its audience an experience to real life behaviour…” A look at Angella Emurwon’s Strings displays this well enough, peeking into the lives of normal people and seeing how they relate with each other.

There is a lot to look forward to during this festival. A fourth year is a huge achievement. There are hurdles but its looking exciting this year! Check out the program and come enjoy it.

Photos : James Wasswa

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