Tucked away in a sleepy corner of the town, Nakuru Players Theatre has, over the years, been getting a rather low number of visitors.
This was partly blamed on the few plays being staged at the theatre and the little marketing it receives.
However, at the weekend, the theatre pulled a surprise to mark its 70th anniversary, with a re-enactment of popular South African musical ‘Sarafina’.
Residents came in droves to watch the musical that had been popularised during the week when artists staged a street performance attended by among others Nakuru Deputy Governor Eric Korir. The musical show was staged on Tuesday along Kenyatta Avenue.
Sarafina, a South African musical depicting the Soweto riots of 16 June 1976, returned to the stage in an initiative aimed at nurturing arts.
“The theatre has been in existence for decades. In its heyday, it was the place to be. It has gone through a rough patch and as it celebrates its 70th anniversary, it is back on its feet,” Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said.
The musical is directed by Nairobi Performing Arts Studio director Stuart Nash. It has incorporated artists from Nakuru County in a move aimed at nurturing talents and reviving the threatre.
According to Mr Stuart, Nakuru Players Theatre is one of the few theatres in the country with rich features passed down from the colonial era and can turn around the art industry in the county.
“The theatre has great features passed down from the colonial era. It makes a perfect stage for any play, and plays a critical role in nurturing upcoming artists and movie directors. In Sarafina’s re-enactment into a stage play, some of the actors are from Nakuru while others are from Nairobi,” Stuart said.
Staging of the musical in Nakuru, he said, marked the group’s first entry into the counties. Prior to this the group had only performed in Nairobi. Since the Nakuru shows, at least four counties have requested to be involved.
“Sarafina was first showcased at the Kenya National Theatre before Nakuru County approached us for a partnership. County officials wanted us to work with up-and-coming artistes. For the past few days, four other counties have requested for partnerships following the success in Nakuru, that has also seen some artistes given opportunity to perform in the show,” Stuart said.
“The staging of the play is a great move to motivate our up-and-coming artists and to also let the public know of the great plays that are often showcased at the theatre. We have renovated the theatre to give actors a good environment to work in,” said Chief Officer Gender, Culture and Social Services Abduba Tume.
The theatre is expected to boost arts in the county after the exit of cinema halls such as The Eros, Odeon and Embrace that defined arts in Nakuru of yesteryear.
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