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Production costs push theatre ticket prices up in Kenya

By George Orido | January 28th 2016

NAIROBI: The high cost of production has made leading theatre houses increase their gate charges by nearly 100 per cent.

The Festival of Creative Arts (FCA) that today commands the largest theatre following in the country is now charging Sh900 per ticket up from Sh500 last year.

"In 2015, rates for hiring the Kenya National Theatre (KNT) went up three times while rates at the National Museums of Kenya are double the normal hiring charges," explained Eliud Abuto, the producer at FCA.

He also explained that the Alliance Française auditorium charges also went up thrice.

Arena Media, an outfit headed by comedian Jalang'o, has followed suit and is charging Sh1,000 per ticket for their new Luo play "Atoti Eurobond" which will premier this Saturday at KNT.

As a way of testing the waters, FCA's upcoming show "The Diplomat's Wife" has been pegged at Sh700, according to a poster promoting the play.

Fanaka Arts Theatre that made a mark by presenting the largest number of Kikuyu plays has raised its charges by Sh100 to Sh600 per ticket for their New Year opener comedy "Haicia Bendera".

But if you think this is costly, check out the Nairobi Classics show featuring acclaimed concert pianist Pavel Timofeyevsky slated for next weekend at the KNT. The tickets for this performance are going for Sh2,500.

However, producers at Phoenix Theatre are still selling tickets at Sh500 including for the ongoing run "Twice My Age" produced and directed by Ellis Otieno.

But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. FCA has now come up with a package ticket which they call a "Season Ticket" which goes for Sh6000 and guarantees full year membership for paying patrons.

Mr Abuto explains that ticket sales alone cannot support productions and that they rely on external support to make ends meet.

"FCA relies on the support of corporates and individuals to produce each show as well as fund its education and outreach programmes," he says.

As early as July last year, Tone Theatre Productions was charging Sh1,000 per ticket when they staged the "Obama Dreams of a Father" musical at the Kenya National Theatre. Tickets to the Simba musical at Oshwal Centre towards the end of the year were also priced at Sh1,000.

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