There’s a revival of theatre in Uganda. It’s thrilling. When I was younger, my dad and mum often took my siblings and I to Pride Theatre to watch plays by Bakayimbira Dramactors. I still vividly remember the laughter and joy in the crowd; greeting of the gentleman who played cardinal in one of the plays in my baby yellow frock. He was a real person offstage! I was star struck.
As I got older, I was removed from the theatre scene and never thought about it until recently. I have attended beautifully curated productions in a span of three months. The Kampala art scene is busy.
Yesterday, I spent my Sunday evening at Ndere Cultural Center immersed in joy and laughter as I watched Man to Man, a play by Tebere Arts Foundation. It is written by Prof. Charles Mulekwa and directed by Amelia Mbotto Kyaka.
The play reveals the state of affairs in Uganda. The length at which the state is willing to go to preserve itself: arresting anyone who whispers a word against and about the president.
Job during his drunken stupors intimates that the president is his OB and because of this, he is whisked off to the ‘safe house’ where he’s tortured. Innocent talk in the wrong ears will get you killed or tortured. No one can be trusted. Informants are everywhere.
In a state like Uganda, friendship is fickle. Loyalty will be tested. Friends are willing to sacrifice friendship at the altar of the state. Innocent, with a paradoxical name is far from innocent when he betrays his friend for pesa, money. He confesses that ‘money is not everything but it’s also not nothing.’
‘No one eats ethics’ and we wonder why corruption is rampant in Uganda!!
Love will be tried. Job and Rukia’s love is hampered by too many issues: drinking, the trauma Job experiences upon his return from the safe house rocks their marriage birthing a new man. A shadow of his former self. They are promised a compensation but the emotional scars can’t be compensated!!
As you watch this show, think about yourself and ask yourself which character best represents you? Don’t be quick to judge them least you judge yourself.
The characters are memorable and the script is well written. The dialogue gets bogged down with ‘too muchness’ in some parts. I wished I could cut it down or skip it and we move along. Maybe its my fault for wanting a fast paced narrative.
I highly recommend the play. Catch the play at National Theatre (UNCC) this weekend at only UGX 20,000 for adults and UGX 10,000 for children.