Sunday, 27 November 2016

Certain Greatness Cannot Be Left Unsaid; Theatre's Glory

The fire at Ndere Centre. The Ugandan creatives and the incredible team of the Kampala International Theatre Festival,  3rd edition.

Antu Yacob and her Mourning Sun cast fanned the flames with their exceptional and tremendous talent. I moderated the conversation after the play and I was stilled by the enormity of their gift.

Antu Yacob/Facebook photo

Mourning Sun, composed of two acts in Ethiopia and U. S. A respectively,  is a well-woven fictional story of Biftu,  acted by Jevonnah Mayo, raised in traditional Ethiopia and faced with a far-fetched dream of young love. Her mother, caught in between protecting her daughter while living to society's expectations,  organizes for an arranged marriage to an elderly man. The result is the loss of two children,  her daughter who disappears into indifference and listlessness and her grandchild who never lived to see a day. In addition,  Biftu suffers from the ordeal of obstetric fistula,  her condition aggravated by the lack of remedy for her. She feels cursed,  understandably. Biftu's sister,  the more defiant and outspoken one,  acted by Fadoua Hanine, is the antidote the play needs to relieve the audience of the stigma women and girls go through in systematic oppressive societies.

Cast/Kampala International Theatre Festival photo
Abdi,  acted by Adrian Baidoo,  is a young impressionable boy whose character reflects the huge differences between men and women in traditional Ethiopia. With aspirations of meeting Michael Jackson in America and marrying Biftu,  his life is comparatively simpler and easier. The transition to America however is also significant to young people who are disillusioned into believing that America is still the place where all problems dissipate.

When Biftu finally arrives in America,  she finds restitution in the bizarre yet comfortable encounter of a sex addict whose recovery is through prescribed medical marijuana. Trudy,  acted by John Keller, provides a pivotal point in Biftu's journey.

Each cast member plays multiple roles which any audience can marvel at. Temesgen Tocruray plays a doctor,  taxi driver,  the Ethiopian elderly who marries Biftu,  each of whose accents are played to perfection. Charles Everett likewise plays several Ethiopian characters and a typical Black American struggling to find his own identity.
Antu Yacob has a remarkable gift of stressing pertinent society issues through theatre.

The stage set-up with U.S scenes could have improved. It would also have been more appropriate to introduce the moderator by name, with a brief introduction. The Kampala International Theatre Festival held an entire cocktail of excellence like Black,  a play written by Sanyu Kisaka,  Two Faces by Sammy Wetala,  Doreen Baingana's Tropical Fish,  acted by Rehema Nanfuka,  Kawuna by Kemiyondo Coutinho,  The Surrogate by Achiro Patricia and lots more artists like Kagayi Peter, William Musonda from Zambia, Barzakh a play from Lebanon and Giovanni Ortega from the U.S.
Rehema Nanfuka/ KITF photo

Scene from Sanyu Kisaka's Black/KITF photo
Congratulations to Deborah Asiimwe the Director of Uganda's largest international theatre festival. 

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