Theater festival comes to Kampala

01:16 by Kaggwa Andrew
Visual Art, dance, music and food festivals have all been held in Kampala, yet for some reason, Theater has been marginalized.
Finally, a festival dedicated to theater is set to run at the Uganda National Cultural Center (UNCC) between 26-30 this month.
Dubbed the Kampala International Theater Festival, the five day do is a partnership between Bayimba Cultural Foundation and the Sundance Institute East Africa (SIEA).
The festival will bring together playwrights, actors, directors, costume and stage designers at the National Theater to present an artistically diverse programme of showcases.
The festival’s objective is to showcase plays from emerging and established African playwrights that are topical and focus on gaining a diverse audience.
Curated by SIEA’s Deborah Asiimwe and Bayimba’s Faisal Kiwewa, the programme includes the latest scripts from the East African theatre.
They are playwrights and directors that have been part of SIEA’s lab residencies from Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.
“We are going to be having the festival every year and we hope it becomes a platform for different theater creative to collaborate along regions,” said Kiwewa during a press conference.
The festival comes after as a result of accumulated work from playwrights and directors that SIEA felt it needed to be shared with audiences; “We don’t produce or present work. Therefore, in order to share this new work with audiences, it was important for us to identify a local organization whose mandate is to present and produce performances,” says Asiimwe, and that is the partnership with Bayimba.
The festival will feature eight East African productions that will be screened across the five days it will run. Being an international do, they will feature only one play from Uganda and all the eight from other participating countries.
The Ugandan play, Strings, was written by Angella Emurwon and is directed by Dorcy Rugamba from Rwanda/Belgium. It’s a play about a woman dealing with the return of her distant husband that has been away on kyeyo.
There’s also only one Ugandan director Dr. Aida Mbowa involved and she is working on Desparate to fight, a production by Ethiopian playwright Meaza Worku.
It is a continental story about gender struggles, falling and out of love. After divorcing thrice, Marta is weighing on whether to or not give marriage a fourth try. Tormented by the sounds of a newly and seemingly happily wedded couple next door, she wrestles with her past and memories of former husbands.
The festival comes at a time when theater is almost just emerging from its dark days however; Asiimwe notes that it’s not only in Uganda that the art form has suffered but rather a global trend.
“This theatre festival will offer a platform for theatre-makers not only in Uganda but also from elsewhere.”
The diverse festival will also feature a musical, Dj Lwanda which will be performed by Kenyan ace once TPF academy teacher Eric Wainana with the amazing Suzan Kerunen.
The organisers have put together a great acting company to feature in many of the productions, it’s as diverse as the show with a mix of veterans like Phillip Luswata and Kaya Kagimu Mukasa and younger breeds like Diana Kahunde and William Otako.
Other members of the acting company include Gladys Oyenbot, Alice Lwanga, Brian Emurwon, Herve Kimenyi, Patriq Nkakalukanyi and Nicholas Welch.
Most of the directors will be doing productions that are not from their countries, this had created fear that they may fail to do justice to the emotions and monologues interpretations because of the differences in culture.
Asiimwe however reveals that many of the directors were trained to work together regardless of background and besides; “Seeing work from one’s community and communities from elsewhere will inspire all these stakeholders to take theatre industry to another level.”
Asiimwe calls upon directors and theater makers that are not directly involved with SIEA to come forward and attend since this is a great opportunity to network with their counterparts who have been involved with SIEA during this festival.

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