By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted January 19, 2017}
Walter Sitati is one of Kenya’s most prolific playwrights and producers, having written and staged shows like ‘All I ever wanted’, ‘A Kiss through the Veil’, ‘What’s Your Price?’, ‘The Other Life’ and ‘Sins and Secrets’ in the last few years. They’ve all been staged with the theatre troupe, Hearts of Art that he formed back in 2012. And for me, they’ve all been edgy and dramatic, sometimes satiric and sassy, but always relevant to Kenyans’ every day experience.
He’s been out of the limelight for the last few months, but he hasn’t been resting by any means. Instead, he’s been busy writing and rehearsing several projects scheduled to take off in the coming days and weeks.
For instance, in February, Walter and his Hearts of Art team will shift from stage to TV set where they’ll start filming the first of 13 episodes of his new comedy called ‘Simple Man’ which will star Joe Kinyua (whose most memorable role last year was playing Max in the August Wilson’s award winning play, ‘Fences’, a role that Denzel Washington performed first on Broadway). The series will all be filmed in Nairobi and soon thereafter shown on Mnet’s.
Then in March, Sitati and Hearts of Art will head over to Kampala where they will stage ‘All I ever wanted’ at the La Bonita Theatre.
In April, they’ll be back in Nairobi, performing another new script by Sitati, this one being a satire on police corruption entitled ‘Necessary Madness’ at Kenya National Theatre. It should be fascinating as Sitati says it’s a story told through the eyes of a local cop.
Finally, in May, Sitati will bring his HOA players home to Alliance Francaise where they will perform in ‘The Mercy Seat’ which is likely to be rather dark since the playwright himself describes his latest play as ‘a tragedy’ focused on the inequalities that exist in Kenya and around the world.
Meanwhile, this Saturday the Point Zero coffee house (just next to the Nairobi Gallery) is launching its ‘Book Café’ featuring The Performance Collective which will do readings and discuss Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s award-winning book, Dust. The writer herself will be on hand to be part of the discussion and to sign copies of her book which will also be available for sale.
Blending delicious coffee with good books is a dream come true for both the Performance Collective co-founder Mshai Mwangola – Gitonga and for the Point Zero Coffee queens, Wangeci Gitobu and Andrea Moraa.
The launch of the Book Café, which Andrea and Wangeci hope to continue on a monthly basis, starts at 11am tomorrow and will run until early afternoon.
And just down the road (Koinange Street) from Point Zero Coffee, the Alliance Francaise is starting off the New Year by hosting a number of exciting productions starting in early February.
On the 11th the Friends Ensemble will open in the Wangari Maathai Auditorium in ‘I’ll be back before midnight’ which sounds like a murder mystery to me; but then maybe not.
Then on the 18th John Sibi-Okumu produces and directs Davina Leonard in the one-woman play entitled ‘Every Brilliant Thing’. Davina was last seen in Silvia Cassini’s award-winning play, ‘A Man like You’ which will hopefully be re-stated later this year following its successful staging at two different off-Broadway theatres in New York City.
Also at Alliance, Sammy Mwangi and Heartstrings Entertainment are starting off this year’s theatre season with a bang-on comedy called ‘Nothing but the Truth’.
And finally, from upcountry we just got news that The Theatre Company has a brand new studio up at Karichota, courtesy of Keith Pearson’s team of artistic builders and the German Embassy. Another dream come true for The Theatre Company who’ll use the studio as a rehearsal space much like the one they’ve got in Spring Valley just behind StoryMoja, and also a place where yoga classes are taught to both thespians and other visitors to Karichota, a beautiful site just next to the awe-inspiring Mount Kenya.