Kenyan poets Aleya Kassam, Laura Ekumbo and Anne Moraa knew they were onto something when they came together to write a play that became one of the best productions of 2018.
Brazen featured an all-female cast and was the fourth edition of Too Early For Birds theatre company—started by Abu Sense and Ngartia Bryan in 2017 — and was making one political hit after another under the direction of Wanjiku Mwawuganga.
Brazen is where the LAM Sisterhood began and it attracted a full house at Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi.
“We didn’t get registered as a company until after Brazen, but now it’s official,” said Aleya. The LAM stands for Laura, Aleya and Moraa Anne.
“We are no longer performing under Too Early For Birds theatre company even though we are still close. We are now performing as the LAM Sisterhood,” Aleya added.
The three women said writing collectively wasn’t easy. But, they have an undeniable chemistry and infectious energy. What’s more, they have incorporated “Wanjiku” into their sisterhood.
All four women were performing together this past weekend with the people’s drummer, Willie Rama, who is known for working with thespians like Sitawa Namwalie in the past.
Their staging ground was Kaloleni Social Hall and their producer was the Book Bunk, a new organisation committed to upgrading and revitalising Kenya’s library services.
“LAM Sisterhood would have performed in the [Kaloleni] Library but we knew it would be too small to hold all the children we anticipated would come for KaBrazen,” said Angela Wacuka, cofounder of the Book Bunk with Wanjiru Koinange.
“The social hall was just next door so we decided to hold their programme there,” said Wanjiru Koinange.
Both were delighted with the massive turnout of children between five to 10 years. The Sisterhood came up with the play especially for children as a spinoff from their original, adult production of Brazen.
“I think there might have been a few three-year-olds there as well,” said Wanjiru whose Book Bunk also provided a free lunch for the children after the performance.
What was especially impressive about the KaBrazen show was the way all four female actors interacted with the children, drawing on the joy they each have for storytelling.
The children were just as excited about the show as the actors. So very few remained seated.
Moraa called on them to join her in acting out the movements of an elephant, snake and lion and making their sounds. The children loved it.
The children were on their toes, attentive to each woman’s dramatic interpretation of either Lwanda Magere, Mekatilili or Selina. The only problem came when Laura’s performance mixed more English than Swahili, unlike either Moraa’s or Wanjiku’s.
In any case, for two hours, the LAM Sisterhood charmed and delighted the more than 200 children. Their performance was accompanied by Willie’s percussion and the group’s simultaneous use of indigenous instruments enhanced the musical effect of the show. Bravo LAM Sisterhood.