LEISURE: No home for theatre fest

Friday December 13 2019

A scene from Hard Stuff: Happiness, featuring Fine Brit Fröhlich and Victor Otieno Oluoch. PHOTO | COURTESY


This year’s Kampala International Theatre Festival featured productions and workshop readings from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Germany and the UK.

The event, now in its sixth year, was held at the Uganda Museum and Ndere Centre in Kampala from November 23 to 25. It was organised by the Tebere Arts Foundation and the Bayimba Foundation.

The festival brings together playwrights, directors and celebrated actors, costumes and stage designers from around the world.

But the event was not without challenges including high costs of production, lack of a permanent home and poor publicity, according to KITF producer and co-curator Asiimwe Deborah Kawe.

“For us to consistently produce and curate the festival every year for the past five years is no small feat. Raising funds for any artistic activity isn’t easy, and when it comes to theatre, it is a lot harder,” she said.

“We have managed to do that and I am proud of the work we have done. We have held the festival in different places around Kampala. That has its own value but there is a need for the festival to have a permanent space.”


She added: “We have consistently had the festival the last weekend of November every year. Now, we also need a consistent venue(s). Most people prefer a sense of permanence.”

A number of productions featured at this year’s edition.

My Father and Other Superheroes (UK/Uganda), directed and performed by Nick Makoha is one man’s revelation of how the pop culture raised him in the absence of his father.

It follows Nick’s journey as he discovers what it takes for a man to become a hero, and how a hero can be just a man.

Hard Stuff: Happiness (Kenya/Germany), written and performed by Fine Brit Fröhlich and Victor Otieno Oluoch, The play explores the question of what happiness really means through the use of puppetry.

The Children of Amazi (Rwanda), written and performed by Rivardo Niyonizigiye, Arthur Banshayeko and others is about the Great Lakes region, where nature and water are abundant. But one dark evening, all the rivers stop flowing and the gardens stop blooming.

Les Larmes de Crocodile (The Tale of the Crocodile) (Burundi) is written and performed by Dushime Arlene, Nzikwinkunda Marlene and others.

It is an allegorical performance in which the crocodile from Lake Tanganyika is a recurring “character” as the Outsider and the Conscience.

Gender, violence and reconciliation are, among other themes witnessed inn a country with a loaded past and present. The performance integrates dance and theatre, fusing play, rap, contemporary, urban and traditional dance.

Far Gone (Uganda/UK), written and performed by John Rwothomack is a one-man performance on the horrors of being a child soldier, and is filled with humour and poetry.

It follows the life of Okumu, an innocent boy living with a foster family in northern Uganda. When his village is attacked by the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army, he and his brother are captured and their lives are forever changed.

The Last Day of Spring (Palestine) inspired by Sophocles’ Antigone explores the brute force of the nation state, familial grief and strife, and the meaning of religious and spiritual law. Although the story is a personal one, it is founded on the universal theme of loss. It is written and performed by Fidaa Zidan.