From making a winning play to big-screen movie

Moi Primary School Kabarak perform a play at the 60th edition of the annual Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama and Film Festival at Kibabii University. [George Orido, Standard]
It all started as a creative composition test with a theme depicting contemporary parenting before it turned into a play that won this year’s national drama festival.

And now, ‘Forbidden Acts’ by Moi Primary School-Kabarak is just about to be turned in to a movie by the Kenya Films and Classification Board (KFCB).

The play was ranked the best overall in this year’s schools and colleges national drama festival, also scooping best play category on theme and producing the best actor and the best actress.

The 35-minute act becomes the school’s fourth play to have consecutively made it to the nationals, plays that are all child-centred, highlighting on what needs to be corrected in society.

“We asked the children for ideas on how they are brought up in this era of the internet and career-chasing parents. The children brought out intriguing ideas that we pieced together into a play that spoke boldly of the effects of skewed parenting,” said Madegwa Vukala, the school’s drama patron.

In the play, children are showered with gifts, including money and expensive phones, by their 'busy' parents. The parents bribe the children in almost everything.

“The play also captured how children with skewed parenting are vulnerable in society and can easily fall prey to evil people. With the pupils conceiving their own ideas, it becomes easy for them to tell the story based on how they understand it,” Vukala said.

And while ‘Forbidden Acts’ received a standing ovation, leaving audience in stitches with witty yet controlled exaggeration, pinch of humour and a taste of satire, the teachers said producing the play is an expensive venture.

“From producing, directing and casting a play, it takes a lot of effort to finally produce a piece that can sustain the audience for a given time. The school has invested a lot in drama and making this particular one a movie is a plus,” said Maurice Omondi, the teacher in charge of production.

Besides earning the Drama Club revenues, Omondi said making a movie out of the play will help nurture talent as those who acted will play a role in the movie.

Upcoming actors

“In the play, we had 35 actors who will also be slotted in the making of the movie. This will give them a chance to also exploit their talents and encourage upcoming actors and actresses to take their roles seriously,” he said.

In the play, two pupils, Aaron Ondieki and Joyner Mantei, were named best actor and best actress, respectively.

Omondi said in the past festivals, the best actors and actresses did not have the opportunity to nurture their talent.

“Giving them a chance to act in movies will however encourage schools to compete favourably to win and have their play turned in to an income-generating moviethat also markets the talent,” he said.

This may not be the only play from this year’s festival to be turned into a movie.

A team chaired by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha will present a roadmap within the next four weeks to see how other winning items, including Riara Spring’s Camels of Tarbaj, could be turned into movies.

The team includes ICT CS Joe Mucheru, Education PS Belio Kipsang and representatives from KFCB, Kenya Film Commission, the Communication Authority as well as Kenya National Drama and Film Festival Chairman Prof Christopher Odhiambo.

Magoha said the films to be produced from the plays must be of international standards and be shown in public theatres and sold at the box office.

“You must plan to do a thorough job and even if it means hiring the best from Africa to act in the film project, then so be it,” he said.

Prof Magoha asked parents and teachers not to exert pressure on pupils to pursue science or mathematics courses against their talents.

KFCB boss Ezekiel Mutua said, “As you can see, a play like the one presented by Moi Primary School Kabarak is educative and entertaining and it is clean. We as a Board have said that one needs not to be obnoxious, abusive or profane to be creative. We are proud to be associated with this achievement.”

Moi Primary School-Kabarak headteacher Nelson Kiptoo said although setting up a play is expensive; the school has invested heavily in nurturing talent.

Kiptoo said producing a winning play requires the involvement of pupils in bringing out the themes and how they perceive things for teachers to piece up the script.

“Staging a play that gets to a national level requires a lot of attention, and cooperation between teachers and pupils. The school has invested in this as part of ambitious project to boost the drama club not only in the school but also in the country,” he added.

Last year, the school produced a play, ‘Golden Treasure’, which was ranked fourth nationally. The play depicted the generational gap in career choices where parents dictate careers for children.

In 2017, the school staged another play, ‘Silent Bridge’, which brought out depression in children as a result of family breakups while in 2016, the school staged a play ‘Stale Mate’. The play, was ranked fourth and depicted life of children who have been raised by grandparents after parents broke up.  

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Forbidden ActsKenya Films and Classification BoardEducation CS Magoha