Githaa by The Theatre Company Performance Skills Programme 2006

Original Work

Githaa iliwanga play ya ki’tryzex yenye ilitungwa kwa kuchangisha ma’true stories za cast.

Hii play ilijijenga kutoka kwa ma’meditation ya cast wakijipasha wenyewe kwa wenyewe na mareality za life yao.

Hiyo ndio ilikuwa first time cast kujenga plays na hii design.

Ilibamba juu ya venye hao wasanii hawakujuana vipoa kabla ya hiyo shugli, lakini walifunguka vi’speedy wakistukia kumbe wote wamepitia situation zinaenda kufanana.

Kama zile ma noma walipitia wakiwa watoi zenye zime wa’affect hadi wakiwa wabiggy.

Cast yenyewe ilikuwa na watu wamatabia tofauti-tofauti so ilichangia kuwa na play ina tuma feelings kadhaa kwa audience, kama: hepi, kuboeka, ukalulu, nomaree, ulava na ubeste.

Manze cast walibambika na vile ma’director wa play waliwashow vile wana jenga plie ndio vile watai’show.

Kwanza hapo kwa kutumia sheng! Hiyo ndio ilikuwa mara ya fao kufanya play yeyote ya sheng hapa Kenya even though sheng ndio unaweza sema inatumika zaidi Kenya mzima hii pande ya bara.

Ni lugha bado imedharauliwa na watu wengi – especially watu wambuku na wasanii wazae wanaicheki nikama lugha inferior.

But cast ilikausha na’kushow play kwa ma ghetto na mtaa zingine. Reception ilikuwa wagwan na wadhii wengi sana wali’relate nayo.

Hiyo title ya “Githaa” kwa sheng ina’meaning mbili.

Ya fao ni masaa, na ya mbwegze ni opportunity poa ya ku’make ganji.

~ Aroji Otieno

 

Translation into English:

Githaa is an experimental play that came out of devising from actors’ personal stories. The piece developed from a process of self-enquiry, a  process which all the actors had not gone through at that time.

Although most of them did not know each other well, they opened up to one another about their past and present lives, unveiling childhood traumas that influenced their upbringing.

The well-blended personalities in the cast helped develop a piece that invoked several feelings from the audience; joy, sadness, humour, trauma, sensual romance, and camaraderie.

The cast was pleased with the directors’ attentiveness to the actors’ desires, and they were particularly delighted when they learned that the play would be staged in the language of its development, which was Sheng.

Even though mild Sheng is the most common language in the Bara-Kenya, it was considered an inferior language and shunned by many literary critics.

However, on tour with the play in the slums and streets of Nairobi, and later on in other towns, the play became an instant hit.

It later became a model structure for devising Kenyan plays.

 

Githaa, the first full-length performance in sheng, follows the arrival, in Nairobi, of Atieno Night, as she attempts to fit in with a group of street performers. Atieno soon proves to have skills that are way more superior to the itinerant group, and some entertaining rivalries develop, with everyone trying to outdo her, and each other.

Things calm down a bit when the actors start sharing stories about their past. They realise they have a lot in common.

There’s a story about witnessing a murder, being abused by a stepmother, attending a loud Luo funeral, watching a couple get married, a circumcision ceremony, a love triangle, interspersed with dance, song, and a display of one actor’s fire-blowing skills.

 

 

The work was developed in 2006 by a group of actors as part of The Theatre Company’s Performance Skills Training Programme. The devised work produced a series of performances while developing each performer’s individual and group skills, as well as creating a social unit. [Source: The Theatre Company’s Performance Skills Training Manual]

The show’s choreography uses different ideas of “passing through” to symbolise the storytellers’ passing from a uni-cultural, rural background to a multi-cultural, urban present. [Ibid]

The show toured the streets, social halls and playgrounds of Mathare, Korogocho and Kibera, as well as commercial theatres and venues in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi.

A visiting group of artists and presenters from New York including 651 Arts (https://www.651arts.org/who-we-are/) found the show hilarious, poignant and gripping, demonstrating that even though the performance was in sheng, the language of theatre is universal.

Funding for the three-year programme was provided by the Ford Foundation and offered training, performance and public education, as well as developing and promoting experimental, interactive, performance practice.

The full-time training course for actors had so many applicants that the programme created additional regular part-time intensive workshops in auditioning technique, dance, movement, voice training, acting, writing and directing.

During the 3 years of the project, more than 400 young performers living in the Nairobi area had access to skills training. In the second year of the project performers were invited to join the programme from Kisumu, Eldoret, Nyahururu, Nakuru, Mombasa and Malindi. In the third year, the Nairobi group took performances to audiences in Mombasa and Malindi.

Original Cast (and co-writers) or Githaa: Lydia Gitachu, Rogers Otieno (Aroji), Josiah Qualata, Jacquie Nyaminde, Mary Kithomi, John (Small) Ogutu, Cheptab (Barbie) Chepkoech, John Githui, Angie Musira and Mourad Sadat

The play was revived in 2009 with these additional cast members :         Nice Githinji, Ruth Maingi, Ndubi Makeni, Roseline Odhiambo, Willy Rama, Andrea Kalima and Benta Stephanie.

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