Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Drama Commissioned for Tangaza College, Kenya

Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of being a consultant on a drama commissioned by Tangaza College for their 25th anniversary celebrations.  Tangaza is a Catholic university in Nairobi, Kenya.  Father Pietro is a priest who has a strong interest in theatre and incorporates and encourages it as much as possible.  In fact, in 2009, he helped coordinate the first Festival of Christian Arts in Kenya, showcasing artists from all the disciplines.

A scene from "The Last Convict"
Anyway, the play was called "The Last Convict" and was a metaphor for spreading the Good News of Christ.  It used the metaphor of a convict facing a death sentence, with an electrician called Lightman representing Jesus - a popular image was the bucket of waste under the cot that Lightman offered to empty.  The whole thing had the feel and structure of a medieval morality play, albeit set in modern Kenya.  It was written by Joseph Murungu, a respected theatre teacher and playwright in Kenya, and performed by Phoenix Players, the only repertory company in the country.

The play was well done, but what was even more interesting was the question and answer session afterward with the Tangaza students.  To many of them, stage plays were a new experience, and certainly this type of metaphorical play was a lot to wrap their minds around.  I enjoyed listening to their questions – how did the actors respond to the message of the play, critiquing the flow of the script or interpretation of it, wanting to know about the process of creation involved.

It was a good example of how theatre can spark dialogue about faith matters, theology and art.
Dancers celebrate the convict's redemption

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