Global Spotlight: East Africa
We partnered East African Playwrights with American directors for a unique international collaboration. Over the course of a month the U.S. directors collaborated over skype with the playwrights in Africa overcoming cultural barriers and time differences to put together a workshopped staged reading of an excerpt of the play. The excerpts were performed in New York at LaMama’s Culture Hub and were broadcast live to audiences around Africa and the world creating a truly global theatre experience.
Meet the playwrights:
“Are We Here Yet?” by Ogutu Muraya, Directed by Heather Lanza
Ogutu Muraya is a playwright and performing artist specializing in storytelling. His recent translation and adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor into Kiswahili was performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London for the Globe to Globe Festival, a build-up to the 2012 Olympics. The play received glowing reviews from British Media including a five star review from The Guardian. The play is also due to embark on an East African tour in September of 2012. His other plays include What Are the Odds?, part of The Theatre Company’s touring show dubbed ‘Fire by Ten,’ and Are We Here Yet?, first shown in Nairobi in July 2011 at the Braeburn Theatre starring Lydiah Gitachu and Joni Githui. As a storyteller Ogutu performs at schools, festivals, corporate and other events. He also uses stories in peace workshops with children. In June 2011 he performed as part of a storytelling tour at The Hay Festival- Wales, The World Heritage Center and Durham University in the UK. In 2009 he went on tour as a cast member of the critically acclaimed poetry-play Cut off My Tongue by Sitawa Namwalie. Other notable productions that he has been part of include (2009) Living Memories by Al Kags and (2010)The Matatu from Watamu that Drove into the Sea: A children’s musical by Muthoni Muchemi. Ogutu holds a BA in International Relations, is the Associate Director of The Theatre Company in Kenya and works with Kwani Trust as an Editorial Assistant.
“Silent Voices” by Lucy Judith Adong, Directed by Erwin Mas
“Kawuna – You’re It!” by Kemiyondo Coutinho, Directed by J.J. El-Far
Uganda’s 2011 young achiever recipient, Kemiyondo Coutinho has been writing for the African women since age 17. Her first one-woman show about Swazi women, Jabulile! went to tour internationally performing in Swaziland, South African, Uganda, Canada, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland. Kemiyondo Coutinho is pleased to share her third born “Kawuna…you’re it” with the Global Spotlight Series.She continues to write for the African Women she never found in the plays she was exposed to at a young age. Keeping in line with the nature of all her work, she hopes to vocalize silenced voices one play at a time.
“Un-Entitled” by Deborah Asiimwe, Directed by Tracy Cameron Francis
Deborah Asiimwe is an award winning playwright, producer and performer from Uganda (East Africa). Her plays have received University and Festival productions and professional readings in the United States of America, and have been produced in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. Asiimwe is a recipient of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) Round 10 New Generation Future Leaders grant. She received a scholarship of merit from California Institute of the Arts where she graduated with an MFA in Writing for Performance. Deborah has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Makerere University, in Kampala-Uganda. Ms. Asiimwe’s interest in storytelling and performance started in childhood, in South Western Uganda where she was raised in a culture of telling stories and oral literature. Using storytelling, song and dance, her writing is deeply rooted in lived experiences and shared realities of silenced cultures. Deborah is currently working with Sundance Institute Theatre Program in New York, leading the Sundance Institute East Africa initiative.
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