For a long time, Uganda has shown little interest in theatre. The small numbers that go to theatres like La Bonita and Bat Valley is a clear testimony to that. High fees paid for one to watch a play have been another turn-off.
But last week, the Uganda Center for International Theatre Institute (UCITI) and Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) organized a three-day festival that brought plays, drama and acting closer to the public.
The celebrations for World Theatre day kicked off on Wednesday, with a variety of artists showcasing their productions to a full National theatre auditorium. With no fees being charged for entrance, an even bigger number of theatre enthusiasts attended the festivities on Thursday climaxing on Friday March 27, which is the official world theatre day.
A mixture of theatre-affiliated performances was taken to city streets to involve the general public. Dressed in a vest encrusted with condoms, the Foursum’s William Otako, joined in the celebration with a silent mono drama on Kimathi avenue, Kampala road and Parliamentary avenue in a production dubbed “The artist in me”.
This was after he and his group mates Edwin Mukalazi and Felix Bwanika tore up the UNCC auditorium with their wit and humour. The punch liners also cracked up comedy lovers with their hilarious jokes.
The absence of any mainstream musicians was well made up for by performances from a number of schools, including Clever’s Origin primary school.
St Anthony primary school moved the crowd to tears in their performance depicting the negative effects of war. Fun Fare Kids Uganda had its pupils put up amazing dances of Lingala songs – which are way older than them.
Students from the Makerere University department of performing arts also staged three powerful plays, including Kinsmen And Kinswomen and Clizia. It was a testimony that the university still holds muscle in theatrical productions.
Dr Jessica Kaahwa, the UCITI president, said she was happy the youth had been heavily engaged in the festival.
She said: “Theatre is usually taken as something for old people but we have had so many young artists who are energetic and love the theatre. They are really active and having them on board means that this day will never disappear again like it had in the past.”