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Theatre to stage Maya Angelou's poetry

By Standard Reporter | February 23rd 2015
Actors from Tone Theatre Productions rehearse a musical rendition of Maya Angelou’s autobiography ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’. The play opens this Thursday at the Phoenix Players. [Photo: Elvis Ogina/Standard]

Celebrated American poet Maya Angelou will be immortalised starting Thursday when Tone Theatre Productions in conjunction with the US Embassy Nairobi stage 'The Caged Bird Sings' – a collection of her most famous poetry rendered in music, dance and elocution at the Phoenix Players Theatre.

The production is inspired by Dr Angelou's autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

"I am a phenomenal woman. Phenomenally, that's me," says Maya in one her master pieces, Phenomenal woman as part of the action in the new production produced and directed by George Orido.

The show features some of her best including Still I Rise, Caged Bird, On The Pulse of Morning, Africa, Thirteens among others. On the Pulse of Morning, was a dedication to former US President Bill Clinton during his inauguration.

According to Orido the pieces are creatively hemmed to tell a story of pain, joy, perseverance and triumph especially among the African Americans.

Listening to the poems, one is taken through different emotions of laughter and a mix of reflection and sorrow but hope is the common denominator.

In a musical rendition of a kind, the production boasts a cast that is youthful as it is talented with Seraphine Moipei, one of the Moipei Sisters taking central role on the flute and keyboard with some of her compositions in the production.

Theatre cast

Other members of the cast include Claire Etaba, Terry Wambui, Abdulrazak Ikundia, Collins Onyango, Wendy Kandra, Josephine Wambui, Charles Chizi Ngambi, Kieran Kirema, George Njoroge, Marie Wambui, John Kinyanjui and Quicks Nyakwaka.

"I am so privileged to be part of this production because Maya's Message is so universal, I want to be the mouthpiece to pass her message of strength, hope and perseverance to all," says actor Kieran Kirema.

On her part Claire Etaba finds joy in playing a role that depicts Maya as someone who overcame many hurdles in life and made it to the top.

"She embodies the struggles of a true African Woman, she observes.

A rich talent in the crew is manifested in the presence of Maestro Nicholas Moipei as the music consultant, Evans Mbinji as the Music Director and Dennis Edgar as the Choreographer and Benard Nyanje on the creative.

The show is presented in one act but divided in odes including to Africa, America, Man, Woman, Love and Life and deals with the themes of equality, racism, love, endeavor and Africa.

"The beauty is that the performance is not just Maya Angelou's story, it is also Kenyan story where a great deal of addressing our own realities as Kenyans becomes a major part of the act," says Orido.

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