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Little Theatre excites, brings life and fun to Mombasa nightlife

By Ishaq Jumbe | Nov 12th 2021 | 3 min read
Sekunde Chache play cast members on stage at Little Theatre Club, Mombasa. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

It is Wednesday evening, and the Little Theatre Club in Mombasa is a hive of activities.

Art is in the air, with performers lingering at the club in readiness to showcase their talent.

MC Kalipa-Raims, a stand-up comedian, has gone through the collections, and the artists are ready to storm the stage to entertain a small crowd that has gathered.

The nearly 250 capacity Little Theatre Club auditorium has a few other artists.

The ensemble of thespians is living on hope for better days and hope to reclaim the lost glory of the club.

According to Lynn Rose, the club’s manager, artists have embraced a new initiative that they have launched. 

“We have this programme called the Platform, where actors showcase their talent at the auditorium,” she said.

 MC Kalipa-Raims revealed that they feature dances, mashups, singing, stand-up comedy, verse speaking, collabos and freestyles at the club.

Masufuria, another comedian, is optimistic that despite the low turn-out of audiences for the free show, things are looking up.

Club chairman Valentine Mwakamba has co-opted artists into the management so that they can be involved in the running of the club.

“We still require equipment and hope to establish an IT centre, so that the youth can be fully integrated. Our mission is to help artists develop their talent,” he said.

Little Theatre Club is waking up from not only decades of negligence, but also Covid, which paralysed operations.

The club was the beneficiary of an Sh500 million facelift, which saw the government renovate it in 2017.

During the club’s heydays, it used to be a prolific venue for theatre productions.

The Little Theatre Club in Mombasa County on Friday November 5, 2021. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Louis Armstrong, the famous American Jazz maestro, visited and performed at the club in November 1960.

During his performance, the theatre was bursting at the seams, which used to be the norm back then.

The Munich Chamber Orchestra performed concertos and symphonies by world-renowned composers like Bach, Mozart Hummel, among others, at the club back in 1961.

The Golden Gate Quartet from the US also performed at the Little Theatre Club.

And in 1964, the Presentation of the Department of State of the US, which featured the Cleremont Quartet with their violins and cellos was played at the club.

This action was interspersed with a dose of regular iconic plays like The Night of Magic, Who Killed Santa Claus, Key for Two, How the Other Half Lives, among others. These were presented by foreigners, who used to patronise the club in the sixties.

And between 2000 to 2010,  plays by Kenyan playwright, the late Kuldip Sondhi, which included The Goan Saga, Kiosk, Palour Game, Room Service and Don Geronimo, all of which were directed by renowned stage play director Hillary Namanje, were frequently staged at the club.

The last play publicised at the Little Theatre was Sekunde Chache by Maisha Max Productions.

The organisers successfully planned a modelling show and traditional dance entertainment.

And now, to sensitise the public on matters of elections, the new team has developed a play that urges Kenyans to maintain harmony during the election period.

Titled, Damu si Maji, the play is about Kishipa’s family, who are confronted by a Governor’s husband, who is on a killing spree to ensure all opposition members are wiped out so that his wife retains her seat.

It will be interesting to see how that plan works out, seeing that the victims are equally armed to protect themselves and their property and affect the election outcome with their votes.

The play will be performed at the Little Theatre Club on December 13, 2021.

The play is written by Yusuf Mwinyihija and Mwakamba as the executive producer. Producers also include Nolly Raye Jarateng and Mbashir Shambi as the director.

The character list includes Amos Baraza, Josephine Wakhula, Sineno Mohammed Godi, Omar Khalfan, Mariam Dzungu and Juneja Yasin.

With the club mourning, one of their great veterans, the late Gillie Owino, his portrait has been placed at the entrance of the auditorium.

There is hope that his spirit will be a constant reminder of how high the aspirations of any budding thespian can soar. 

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