The Kenya International Theatre Festival (KITFest) aims to motivate Kenyan artistes by bringing international theatrical performances to the country. At the same time, it provides a platform to showcase Kenyan theatre to the world.
The annual festival is back and runs from November 1 to 13 this year. It is expected to be a learning curve for theatre enthusiasts and promises an enriching experience for both audiences and thespian talents.
Festival Director Fedari Oyagi tells The Sunday Standard that the ball is already rolling, with performances underway.
“It would be difficult to pick out which key performances that fans can look forward to because they are all so good,” Oyagi says, adding that international theatrical performances and local ones alike will be in plenty.
“We will have performances nearly every day during this time frame, most held at the Kenya National Theatre. We had an opening ceremony on 1st, where the Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, Ababu Namwamba was in attendance,” says Oyagi.
Following the launch of this year’s festival, Namwamba said he was amazed at the creativity and artistic capability demonstrated at the fete.
“Amazing evening as 7th Kenya International Theatre Festival #KITFest2022 opened at Kenya National Theatre. The artistic entertainment and fun here are mind-blowing. The depth of cultural connection is incredible. Come enjoy the two-week show as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Kenya Cultural Centre,” Namwamba wrote on Twitter.
Oyagi says that there is something for everyone: from a child’s festival where children can come together, be trained, and learn theatre, to a family day with performances based on bible stories. There are also acts by local talents - a total performance list of 22.
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“Next week, we will get to see most of the international performances. We look forward to experiencing shows from South Africa, the US, Spain, and Egypt.”
KITFest’s website shows that South Africa’s Jika Performing Arts College will have a performance on November 6 dubbed Barberton Project.
“Barberton project is to be the most exclusive, luxurious and beautiful recreational resort for the rich and powerful in all Africa,” KITFest describes it in part.
“Only one piece of land stands in the way to the completion of the project and the owner won’t budge – not at any price, except death. A couple both in love pursuing their dreams are trapped in a nightmare of escalating violent war from which only one can emerge.”
US’s Scena Theatre also has something special planned for the festival, a stage drama called Report to an Academy.
The cultural experience will be one for the books, with adaptations of plays acted out by thespians from diverse countries.
There will also be a cultural evening, also called a theme night, by China. Oyagi says the slot aims to share the country’s culture through cuisine and art.
The list of local performances includes Eldoret’s Arrow Entertainment with an act titled World Twisted, and Eldoret Film Festival with theirs dubbed P3.
“From the back and forth in their tales we get to see how mental illness has affected him (Konde) as a creative. The effects of mental illness and how it is affecting the world currently,” KITFest describes World Twisted.
It adds: “The performance space is symbolically drawn by several mirrors to tell the story, the mirror acting as the normal human beings who just see one from the outside but cannot tell what is deep inside him. Konde’s world is twisted.”
Also listed are performances by Mufasa Poet, Origins of Mankind, Woodcreek School, Sarakasi, David Mulwa Production, and Chemichemi players, among many other exciting acts.
Other than the performances, some workshops have been arranged during the festival - learning and educating people on theatre being one of its core goals.
“We will have five local teams undergo workshops facilitated by trainers from Kenya, South Africa, US, and Egypt. Furthermore, we have partnered with the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia, to offer a Masterclass on Audio Plays and a Public Lecture to enhance our local voice artistes’ and productions’ expertise,” KITFest wrote in a press statement.
“The output is scheduled for presentation during the #KITFest2022 closing ceremony. Registration for the Audio Play programme is still open on the participation page on our website.”
Festival director Oyagi celebrates the fact that the annual fete has survived the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that KITFest adopted a productive response to the outbreak - trying and testing out different dynamics, which “ultimately made the festival richer and wealthier.”
“Now we have major Masterclasses on theatre production and audio play. In 2020, the festival hosted virtual performances all through, and on the learning front, it focused on county training workshops,” he says.
“It was easier to train people within their counties, where they were contained and could follow protocols like mask wearing and social distancing.”
Speaking about how theatre lovers can get involved during this year’s festival, Oyagi says all audiences have to do is go and watch the performances, which have been listed on KITFest’s website.