Playwright network is finally back

Thursday August 7 2014

Tebandeke (L) and Tonny Muwangala at the

Tebandeke (L) and Tonny Muwangala at the reading of “The marriage chronicles” at the National Theatre in Kampala. Photo | Morgan Mbabazi 

By BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI

Theatre Factory, an independent media, theatre and film company based in Kampala, has partnered with the Uganda National Culture Centre to revive the New Playwrights Network through which theatre scripts are reviewed by fellow professionals before they are staged.

“With the support of Fourth Bin New York in the US, we are trying to grow a culture of creating new theatrical work. To this end, Theatre Factory offers to fully produce interesting and provocative theatre pieces for exposure and testing by a select audience,” Theatre Factory team leader, Philip Luswata-Kafuluma told The EastAfrican.

“This offers writers the rare opportunity to have their works in progress reviewed by their peers and industry professionals. They can then choose to develop them further or simply reject the advice. We also hope that through this, we are able to expose new competitive works to interested theatre producers in Uganda as the writers are free to write in whatever language they fancy,” Luswata-Kafuluma added.

The EastAfrican attended the reading of a work in progress titled The Marriage Chronicles by Tebandeke Samuel Anthony Lutaaya at the National Theatre on July 23, the performance, with minimum action and movement, was by Esther Tebandeke and Tonny Muwangala. The play, to be published next year, tackles the issue of male infertility and its effects on marriage.  

The Marriage Chronicles directed by the award winning playwright, Deborah Asiimwe is a domestic drama that focuses on the lives of Maggie and John who have been married for 10 years but are childless as a result of John’s infertility. It was the second play to be read by the network. The first was Quite And We Hear by Luswata-Kafuluma, read in May.

The Royal Court with the facilitation of the British Council first became involved with artistes in Uganda in 1992 theatre of London and many Royal Court playwrights and directors ran workshops in Uganda through the British Council in Kampala.

It was through this initiative that the National Playwright Network (NPN) was created in Kampala to organise writing workshops. In 2001, six Ugandan writers developed their plays at the Royal Court in London at an international residency.

A number of Ugandan playwrights have attended the international residency, including Luswata-Kafuluma, whose short plays were presented at two international seasons at the Royal Court in London.

For over 50 years, the Royal Court has premiered new plays and helped to launch the careers of playwrights. It runs the Royal Court International Residency and travels throughout the world to work with emerging writers.

Theatre Factory says the Royal Court’s support of NPN ended with a change of directors at the British Council in Kampala in the mid-2000. As to the importance of the revived New Playwrights Network projects, Luswata-Kafuluma noted: “This revival is following the same idea as the original NPN.

This offers an opportunity for us to see new theatre pieces from playwrights who may not have the resources to produce themselves. We get to see new work, and win back our lost audiences by provoking them with fresh conversations.”