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Category Archives: Stage reviews

BACK TO BASICS BACK WITH A BANG!

BACK TO BASICS BACK WITH A BANG!

Bringing the stage back to life

From the makers of; Strangers by Blood (2018), Mutual Misery (2018), Legally Insane (2018), Breathe I(2018),II(2019),III(2021), Free fall (2019) and many more, BACK TO BASICS is back with another riveting play.

Created by Mbeki Mwalimu,

Mbeki Mwalimu
Mbeki Mwalimu

MARKET PRICE explores the stark reality of children and young adults in low income areas whose only choice is to survive.

“We all have things we consider priceless, Family, Love, Innocence and Children. Now, consider someone ripping these away from you and there was nothing you could do about it and this became your forever life…

brace yourselves for another riveting play that will linger in your mind long after the curtains fall.” Back to Basics via Instagram.

Directed by Wakio Mzenge (County 49)

Wakio Mzenge
Wakio Mzenge

in her directorial debut, produced by Masuti Mwalimu and written by Saumu Kombo (Breathe III), MARKET PRICE features a renowned cast consisting of; Mwikali Mary (Breathe III),Vivian Gichuhi (Tapeli), Cosmas Kirui (Son of Agich), Wendy Jebet (Simba Bazenga), Chadota Sandra (Flash Squad), Mkamzee Mwatele (Mali), Basil Mungai (Click Click Bang), Nick Ndeda (18 Hours), Shiviske Shivisi (Disconnect), Nyokabi Macharia (Maempress) and Charles Stephen in charge of lighting.

Nick Ndeda
Nick Ndeda

MARKET PRICE will be staged at the Jain Bhavan (Loresho Ridge next to Loresho Primary School) on December 3rd and 4th at 3pm and 6pm.

Tickets are available now on http://ticketsasa.com

Be There

Kenya International Theatre Festivals 2022 7th Edition

Kenya International Theatre Festivals 2022 7th Edition

In the year 2014,a program investing in and enabling theatre artists and projects by providing platforms, systems and resources for the growth of the theatre industry and the performing arts in general was born and was named the KENYA INTERNATIONAL THEATRE FESTIVAL (KITFest)

Spearheaded by Kevin Kimani (Founder)

Kevin Kimani
Kevin Kimani

Fedari Oyagi (Festival Director)

Fedari Oyagi
Fedari Oyagi

and Michael Pundo (CEO Kenya Cultural Center)

Michael Pundo
Michael Pundo

, KITFest provides a platform to showcase Kenyan theatre to the world and stimulate artists and audiences by bringing International theatrical performances to Kenya. The Festival is also geared towards a celebration of outstanding performances and productions while promoting diverse cultural practices. Theatre artists, practitioners and professionals have an ample opportunity to interact and show their skills and experiences of the industry in the festival.

This year’s 7th edition is held in celebration of the life of Donwill Odhiambo,

Donwill Odhiambo
Donwill Odhiambo

a versatile artist whose last performance was at KITFest 2021 and was best known for his performances at Millaz Productions with shows like Black Out.

As the Kenya Cultural Center celebrates 70 years since it’s inception, what better way to celebrate other than showcase performances from all over the country and the world at large, that is why the festival has organised performances from the following countries; Kenya, South Africa, Egypt,USA, and Spain and also Masterclasses supported and facilitated by artists from Czech Republic, Switzerland and a theme night experience by China.

The opening ceremony which happened on the 1st of November at the Kenya National Theatre was met with outstanding performances. A modern dance choreographed by Collo Blue

Collo Blue
Collo Blue

curtain raised the event electrifying the stage and had the audience ready for what’s to come.

Mufasa the Poet also known as the ‘Kenyan Shakespeare’, delivered a piece titled The Climb with the theme, The Journey of beginning, what it takes, what it took, what is still taking,

Mufasa the Poet performing
Mufasa the Poet performing

spotlighting the process of embracing your gifts and percevering beyond stereotypes.

Writter, Actor and Director Martin Kigondu

Martin Kigondu on stage
Martin Kigondu on stage

 delivered a one person performance titled Supernova. The play follows a man sieving through a love that was, could have been and is, while chasing the highs that come with a busy career and the lows that are survived often in silence. Exploring themes around ambition, love, grief, solitude, family and mental fortitude with both heart and wit and the headspace of man in particular urban isolation.

Gracing the event were the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, Hon. Ababu Namwamba and the Australian High Commissioner to Kenya Mr. Luke Williams as guests of honour.

Hon. Ababu Namwamba and Australian ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Luke Williams
Hon. Ababu Namwamba and Australian ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Luke Williams

“The Kenya International Theatre Festivals is a platform that showcases Kenya and tells Kenya’s story. It is important to know the story for us to tell the story, this is where we learn the story.”

Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, Hon. Ababu Namwamba
Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, Hon. Ababu Namwamba

a statement by Hon. Ababu Namwamba while affirming that the government is ready to make reforms in the art sector one of them being renovating the Kenya National Theatre and for artists to hold him accountable to the promises made.

The Kenya International Theatre Festivals is currently ongoing from the 1st to the 13th of November with a total of 22 shows lined up. Visit http://www.kitfest.co.ke to learn about the shows and ticket purchasing.

    Kenya International Theatre Festivals 2022Kenya International Theatre Festivals 2022

Tukutane KITFest 2022

THE MANIC MONOLOGUES – KENYA

THE MANIC MONOLOGUES – KENYA

mental health is severely underfunded

THE MANIC MONOLOGUES made its African debut right here in Nairobi Kenya at the Signature auditorium in Westlands. Created in 2019 by Zachary Burton and Elisa Hofmeister, The Manic Monologues was brought to Kenya by Shalini Bhalla – Lucas, author, TEDx Speaker, presenter and the executive producer, who became passionate about mental health due to the stigma that surrounded the topic. She discovered this as a result of her first mental breakdown and having clinical depression.

In a quest to create awareness to the state of mental health in the country, a lot of discoveries were made. Mental health is the real pandemic in this country, with the government allocating only KShs 15/= per person to mental health. More stigma comes from religious institutions believing the best solutions to mental health problems is prayer or exorcism. More stigmatization comes from the ignorance in our society where by, a person with mental health issues is approached with so much aggression rather than the fragility that they deserve.

With the efforts a few enthusiastic individuals, the show was brought to us by Shalini Bhalla – Lucas and Amar Vidyarthi as the executive producers and Karishma Bhagani as the producer.  Speaking at The Signature Auditorium during the industry night premier, Shalini shared that mental health is severely underfunded.

“I put 20,000$ into funding the project and I am going to lose about 8000$. What I believe is that government and corporates need to start coming in by funding the arts as well as mental health programs. The choice in location was very intentional given the intimate nature of the subject, but that also means that not much money will be made from ticket sales hence venues also need to subsidize. I would love to be able to create more awareness on Mental Health through The Manic Monologues but that would mean that I sit with people who are willing to put money into the art because theatre in itself is an expensive art.”

Mugambi Nthiga, (Lusala) The director, described the experience of working on the show as cathartic. Mugambi has suffered from depression before but he says “being able to come up with the words and to find the vocabulary to tell these stories as we created the show was a wonderful experience. Working with the actors was very intense so it was really important for us to be there for each other, be each other’s safe spaces as these stories are drawn from real life experiences.”

“I found the experience fascinating, there’s a statement that goes, ‘you don’t remember what a person said to you, you remember how it made you feel.’ Therefore, when acting something like The Manic Monologues, you have to recollect those memories and some of them stem from our childhoods.”  Vikash Pattni, is an actor, radio presenter and emcee. He worked alongside other stars like: Nyokabi Macharia (County 49), Wakio Mzenge (County 49), Nick Ndeda (18 Hours), Elsaphan Njora, (Sense Eight), Charles J. Ouda (How To Have An Affair-A Cheater’s Guide), Auudi Rowa(Salem), Julisa Rowe (Spread Your Garment Over Me).

Was it difficult for the actors to trigger their mental trauma you wonder? Wakio Mzenge, shares that, “As an actor, there’s a technique I use whereby I disconnect my personal experiences from the character. I create a character in collaboration with the director and allow the character to live their authentic lives without drawing from my own experiences because my emotional frequency and the character’s emotional frequency are on different levels.”

From the perspective of the audience, the experience was extremely triggering for some and it awakened a lot of emotions that were maybe buried deep. Some of them let their tears speak for what they were feeling and others did mention that they were going to ‘unpack’ at home. The production understood the magnitude of the impact the show was going to make therefore a therapist was an essential part of the experience. Olive Ndiang’ui, runs Prometheus Kenya who were the official Mental Health and Counseling partners for The Manic Monologues providing counsel to the team during rehearsals, as well as the audience during the show.

THE MANIC MONOLOGUES communicates to a significant number of the public and if the right kind of support is offered, more could be educated.

SMASHING STIGMA SURROUNDING MENTAL HEALTH THROUGH THEATRE

SMASHING STIGMA SURROUNDING MENTAL HEALTH THROUGH THEATRE

“We are holistic beings, and a broken mind leads to a broken body which leads to a broken spirit. And the cycle continues.” Shalini Bhalla-Lucas 

Through the power of storytelling, executive producers Shalini Bhalla-Lucas and Amar Vidyarthi have been vocal about mental well-being by sharing true stories of struggle and pain as well as joy and triumph, whilst also raising awareness and disrupting stigma through theatre hence bringing The Manic Monologues to Kenya.

Having a history with Mental Illness herself, Shalini Bhalla-Lucas shares how art saved her life,

Shalini Bhalla-Lucas
Shalini Bhalla-Lucas

One of the many ways to bring mental well-being to people is through the arts. Dance, music, theatre and art can be healing, transformative and lifesaving. I know this first hand because dance quite literally saved my life.”

Directed by Mugambi Nthiga (Lusala) and featuring a stellar cast consisting of; Nyokabi Macharia (County 49),Wakio Mzenge (My Two Wives), Nick Ndeda (18 hours), Elsaphan Njora (Kati Kati), Charles J Ouda (Mali), Vikash Pattni (Crime and Justice), Auudi Rowa (Salem), and Julissa Rowe (Night, Mother), the show was for one,an emotional journey.

The cast

Staged at the Signature Auditorium, Westlands from the 5th to the 8th of October, the show not only unpacked real life mental illness experiences of Depression,Stress, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Suicidal ideation but also Psychosis, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder and Obsessive compulsive disorder which don’t have much recognition in Kenya.

Stellar performances were delivered from the cast who lived up to the emotive real life scenarios.

Wakio Mzenge, Vikash Pattni and Elsaphan Njora

Due to the deeply emotional nature of the monologues,free therapy spearheaded by Olive Ndiang’ui (therapist) was offered by the production for any of the audience members who may have felt triggered.

One particular performance by Charles J Ouda left me fascinated,

Charles J Ouda

a monologue entitled African in New York,a story of a young man who was studying at the United States and although considered lucky by his fellow Africans back home,he went through tremendous challenges from being violently assaulted to sleeping in the subway, but he didn’t share any of these experiences since his friends and family were miles away.

The mood changes throughout the show were creativity portrayed from the technical crew behind the lighting and costumes; Henry Wamai (Technical Director),Bryan Emry (Costume Designer).

Produced by Karishma Bhagani (Goddess: The Musical) and Essie Noella (Line Producer), The Manic Monologues for sure broadened my level of empathy towards mental health. I am looking forward to more initiatives of this nature being put to consideration in future productions and also hoping for a second edition.

The cast and crew of The Manic Monologues

Be a part of the conversation by following them on their social media platforms @justjhoom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE ART OF LIVE STORY TELLING

THE ART OF LIVE STORY TELLING

THE SIDE CHICK WIFE IS A REFLECTION OF REAL LIFE

The audience thoroughly loved her humor and the flawless delivery of her two part narration…

Most of our lives are spent in front of a screen and we can’t help but applaud the technology and the connectivity through our devices. Chances are, a lot of people get tired and a good icebreaker is getting out there and interacting with a live audience at a live show and I believe we like to hear real life experiences from Key players in the industry.

THE SIDE CHICK WIFE was a live storytelling show, performed by Dr. Zippy Okoth (PhD), a performing artist, producer, director, actor and a lecturer of theatre and arts. She is currently a senior lecturer at KCA University.

Put together by FILM LAB and performed at the KENYA NATIONAL THEATRE auditorium, the show was a two part performance that gave us two perspectives of her life. One side told us how she navigated her relationships from her young days as a campus student in MASENO UNIVERSITY to how she got married and divorced to moving into a marriage like situation ship ‘come we stay’ that ensured her character was well developed for dealing with relationships from then on. On the second part we see Zippy evolve into a more self-aware mature woman who knows what’s best for her.

Live stories often reveal the truths of who we really are. They make the storyteller vulnerable by airing out the unspoken and making fun of otherwise cringe moments. Audiences crave authenticity and that is what they compensate for. THE SIDE CHICK WIFE was one that many could relate to in so many levels. Alert listeners noticed that it touched on so many sensitive topics; marriage traditions and expectations, friendship, cheating, death, loss, grief, therapy, childbearing, parenting and so much more. The one thing that Zippy was able to do was to share with the audience from her real life experiences and how she dealt with every situation that came her way.

A question that a lot of people were asking was that, ‘is the story factual or is it tweaked to keep the audience glued?’ but does it really matter if the story was factual or what one really takes away at the end of the whole experience because Zippy was absolutely incredible, the audience thoroughly loved her humor and the flawless delivery of her two part narration. She is a true story teller that accommodates different styles to her performance and the fact that it was mostly comical, the emotional dive is what makes THE SIDE CHICK WIFE a reflection of real life.

It was a one woman show that was engaging, decorated with very subtle lighting and minimal stage design that absolutely worked for the style of performance.

IRREGARDLESS IS A THEATRICAL MASTERPEICE

IRREGARDLESS IS A THEATRICAL MASTERPEICE

LIFE GOES ON IRREGARDLESS

the mockery that is in the political scenes of our daily lives…

This article aims to discuss John ‘J J’ Jumbi’s style of political satire as an alternative to political discussion. He packages political messages in a comic and contemporary way but still evokes political awareness. In this dramaturgy, IRREGARDLESS vol. 2 employs, sub-plots, different settings, irony, movement, spectacle and many other elements to provoke political conversations.

Irregardless vol. 2 was staged for the very last time on Sunday, 25th September, 2022 at The Braeburn Theatre, Gitanga road. After the success of IRREGARDLESS 1, it was inevitable to bring back volume 2 with the same team.

Produced by Hawi Oguna, he says that after such a long time away, Irregardless brings back something that they as Chatterbox production, hold very dear and that is their audience. Hawi has had an incredible team work behind him comprising of; Mercy Wangui (stage manager), Tugi Waiyaki (Production manager), Seth Guya (choreographer) and many more who came in as partners.

The show has featured veteran actors as well as young and upcoming vibrant actors. Amina Hussein, click- click bang, Ashley Wahu, Just One Bite, Daisy Temba, Esther Kazungu, Papa Shirandula, Faiz Francis Ouma, Sincerely Daisy, Ivy Wangui Muiruiri, Sungura, Ibrahim Muchemi, Godfrey Hinga, Kelvin Kasyoki, Lorna Lemi, Kibue Wambui, Mary Mutheu, Martin Kigondu and Ywaya Xavier, 40 Sticks.

Music is another important aspect that carries the show to the end as it is used as a transitional element from scene to scene and mood changes. Paul Mbithi, the music director has worked with other performers to create powerful and comical renditions of commonly known tunes. The music has also been used as a time buy out and we all know that time management is an essential part of staging plays. Mbithi has worked in collaboration with, Steve Homes, Wanjira Mathai, Destiney Njeri, Dianarose Nyawira, Michelle Wanjiku, Jodi Jubi and Joy Ocholla.

JJ has used settings in our social spaces where politics is meant to find you without you having to look for it; The Church, our schools and even social media trends.

I happened to walk in on a class scene where the cast were using placards to emphasize on how a politician works in order to ensure that the citizens are on their side. There is a lot of use of symbolism on the empty promises that are now very obvious.  The actors use their voices well to mock well known leaders but also in a clever fashion to package a message of what not to do in the next regime.

The spectacle also goes a long way in ensuring that the message in IRREGARDLESS is home. We see it in the mood changes created by the lighting of the different scenes which very creatively and seamlessly change.

Jumbi also uses Juxtaposition to emphasize on the mockery that is in the political scenes of our daily lives. The rising action is, a foot soldier is murdered and during the burial, there is a leader being inaugurated into power. What better way to remind you that LIFE GOES ON IRREGARDLESS. A satirical masterpiece.

CHEMI CHEMI PLAYERS gives a heartwarming comeback

CHEMI CHEMI PLAYERS gives a heartwarming comeback

From Director and producer Julisa Rowe and a cast consisting of ; Nyokabi Macharia,Wambui Kyama, Sakina Mirichii, Joyce Musoke,Lucy Wache and Julisa Rowe the play SPREAD YOUR GARMENT OVER ME was an eyeopener showcasing the tales that are often not told about various women in the bible.

Staged at the Mamlaka Hill Chapel Ruaka on Sunday 25th of September, the piece uncovered stories from characters who haven’t been payed much attention to, from Deborah keeping up with Israel as the first female judge to Claudia, Pontius Pilate’s wife having a revelation about Christ’s crucifixion.

Let me ask,in the story of Saul, the first king of Israel, did you know that the Medium who Saul went to consult so as to bring up Samuel’s spirit was willing to help him even though mediums and witches were persecuted and killed in the most brutal ways imaginable, now I’m not trying to justify witchcraft but the point is, the piece gave a deeper perspective about these women other than what I’ve been taught throughout my christian life.

Julisa Rowe,Lucy Wache and Nyokabi Macharia
Julisa Rowe,Lucy Wache and Nyokabi Macharia

The actors gave a wonderful performance and I for one was impressed in how they shift characters with an actor playing at most three characters.

The writing saw to it that the story portrayed aspects of Joy, despair, grief,war and hope in the lives of the characters. I personally was touched by the narrative of the Samaritan woman’s experience with Christ which was performed in song form and also felt an emotional connection with the characters and the stories.

The set design, costumes, lighting and props really set the tone for the story

Chemi Chemi players for sure did put up a good show and I for one anticipate for their next production.

Follow them on their social media @chemichemiplayers on all platforms to know what they have in store.

A play on the LIFE IN THE BIBLE THROUGH WOMEN’S EYES

A play on the LIFE IN THE BIBLE THROUGH WOMEN’S EYES

In a mission to Transform lives for Christ one play at a time,CHEMI CHEMI PLAYERS made it their sole purpose to produce stage plays which shed light on the different perspectives of both men and women in the Bible.

This year, CHEMI CHEMI PLAYERS graced us with two outstanding productions; SPREAD YOUR GARMENT OVER ME and VOICES IN THE BIBLE: KINGS AND LEADERS EDITION which were highly appreciated but that is not all, since SPREAD YOUR GARMENT OVER ME is ready to make a comeback on the 25th of September at the Mamlaka Hill Chapel Ruaka.

With a renowned cast of actresses consisting of; Wambui Kyama (Kina), Nyokabi Macharia (County 49),Sakina Mirichii (Runaway Grandmother), Joyce Musoke (Better Days), Lucy Wache (Real househelps of Kawangware) and Julisa Rowe (Night, Mother), the piece brings forth stories of joy, despair, grief, war and hope in the lives of women in the Bible.

No longer silent and unnamed, the piece brings fully realized human beings onto the stage as they navigate heartbreak, bareness, abuse,war and longing for change.” Chemi Chemi.

Directed by Julisa Rowe, the first show held at the Kenya National Theatre on February this year was seen with positive remarks from audiences, with one sighting that, “ To watch individual acting powerhouses gel so effortlessly on stage is a treat you cannot miss. The cast masterfully took us through the inner workings of the minds of key female Bible figures in an unforgettable fashion. Strong recommendation.”

That said, I think you are convinced enough to go watch this highly anticipated come back of SPREAD YOUR GARMENT OVER ME this weekend on the 25th at the Mamlaka Hill Chapel.

Tickets are on sale via Mpesa paybill 700 238 ACC : PLAY

See you there.

‘IRREGARDLESS’ IS BACK BIGGER AND BETTER

‘IRREGARDLESS’ IS BACK BIGGER AND BETTER

IRREGARDLESS VOL 2 ‘Open letter to the new president.’

During the pre-election period, CHATTERBOX KENYA, the production team behind; Bei ya jioni (play), 318(Short film) and Lwanda Rock man (play) , brought forth the highly appreciated play IRREGARDLESS at the Braeburn Theatre on July this year.

The political satire was written by John JJ Jumbi focusing on the nature of both the leaders and the citizens during election time and now that the elections are over, the team is back with the second edition of Irregardless, IRREGARDLESS VOL 2.

Also written by John JJ Jumbi, this edition too is a political satire “giving some ‘advice’ to the new chief-in-command of the most pressing issues he needs to adress in a non-opaque manner as he takes up his new office.” Chatterbox.

With the massive appreciation of the first edition, you are promised a much better and fun show with IRREGARDLESS VOL 2 which will be staged at the Braeburn Theatre Gitanga rd from the 23rd to 25th of September.

Tickets are available now on www.chatterbox.ke

THE MANIC MONOLOGUES AFRICAN DEBUT

THE MANIC MONOLOGUES AFRICAN DEBUT

Founded in 2019 by Zach Burton and Elise Hofmeister, The Manic Monologues is a movement shedding light on Mental Health Stigma through Art.

As the name suggests, The Manic Monologues craft performances from real life stories which dig deep on the true nature of Mental Health Stigma around the world making it’s African debut right here in Nairobi, Kenya

Instagram @justjhoom

“The manic monologues brings to life incredible stories that will challenge and inform your ideas about what it means to be touched by a mental health condition. These true lived experiences come from diverse and resilient people living across the world. These brave individuals have things to say about struggle and pain, but also triumph and joy. They are moving. They are human. They are not ashamed.” Zach Burton

Instagram @justjhoom

From the executive producers Shalini Bhalia-Lucas and Amar Vidyarthi, the event is to be held at the Signature Auditorium in Westlands, Nairobi from the 5th to the 8th of October.

Directed by Mugambi Nthiga (Nairobi half life), the monologues will be performed by acclaimed Kenyan artists consisting of; Nyokabi Macharia (County 49), Charles Ouda (Mali), Wakio Mzenge (County 49), Nick Ndenda (18 hours), Elsaphan Njora (Kati Kati), Vikash Pattni (Crime and Justice), Auudi Rowa (This is Life) and Julisa Rowe (Voices of the Bible).

Instagram @justjhoom

Tickets to the event are now available to purchase at http://www.kenyabuzz.com

Instagram @justjhoom
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