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Friday, June 13, 2008

Rich drama served hot at World Culture Day


Good stories, clever dialogues, interesting characters, great costumes and charged showmanship turned the Wednesday May 12, 2008 World Culture Day celebrations at the National Theatre into an unforgettable stress-releasing experience.

The Uganda Theatre Network organised event drew indigenous and exotic cultural acts from diverse artistes that left a lasting impression on the audience among whom was the Minister of State for Primary Education, Peter Lokeris.

The tightly interwoven unity of the performing arts and the enormous display of talent revealed how the country’s arts and culture industry has evolved, how professionalism has taken root.

The performances were preceded by an intense exchange as what extent theatre/drama contributes to socio-economical development.

Without giving patrons a chance to yawn, Kitara Cultural Group brought on a graceful Kinyarwada traditional dance called Amaraba. The elegant movement, the stunning smiles and the way they stretched their arms with the poise of crested cranes as if about to fly rhymed with the passionate plea of the dance --where can we find the beautiful ones?

It was almost depressing to see them leave the stage but then Richard Kagolobya appeared with a unique monologue titled “The carnival of the animals”.

He drew hilarity with his perfect imitation of animal sounds; mooing and meowing, and his monkey acrobatics, his long sweeps about the stage and his undulating pitch soaring up and down like an animal yell from the wild were spellbinding. He was challenging human beings who have lived with animals since time immemorial but do not take time to understand their language.

The standing ovation that accompanied him off the stage is same that welcomed Daibolito – the clown. The Kampala-based Frenchman juggled balls and clubs and cracked everyone up with what he called the kitchen love story. Before he made imaginary salads for an imaginary friend, he washed his hands in an imaginary sink and wiped them dry first – using his armpit ‘bush’ – and later his underwear. His bulbous red nose and the downright cranky movements provoked exclamations of “Wow! Marvelous! Fantastic!” from young voices at the back.

Time was ripe for serious drama. Project Theatre Studio presented an excerpt from the legendary story of Gipir and Labongo. Jasper Kayaa, acting as Gipir put up such a flourishing performance – his face expression, his articulation and timely gestures distinguished him as a great actor Uganda should be proud of.

All the performances would have been 90 percent incredible had not local film maker and actor Ashraf Ssimwogerere served us an incoherent tale of how his first flame saved him from contracting the deadly HIV/Aids by denying him sex. The plot would have been absorbing but Ssimwogerere struggled with grammar and nothing in his vocal or facial expressions suggested he was telling a grim tale.

This however was quickly forgotten, for no sooner had Theatre Factory appeared, than it exposed the foibles and follies of a Catholic man who was trying to win the approval of his insanely rich Muslim father-in-law to be.

Over all, it appeared the celebrants had gathered together to endorse the Uganda National Culture policy which calls all to embrace and live the spirit of a “culturally vibrant, cohesive and progressive nation!”

The celebration will be remembered for forging harmony through rich dramatic performances.

--Daily Monitor, May 31, 2008