Wednesday, 11 January 2017


By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted January 12, 2017)

Phoenix Theatre is not dead!

Some theatre watchers might prefer to say ‘Phoenix Theatre is not dead yet,’ which is also true but slightly more cynical a perspective on the theatre’s current situation.

What I feel is important to underscore is that there’s no need to bury Phoenix before they’ve put up a good fight to stay alive and continue giving us great plays like many of the ones we saw in 2016 when the Theatre staged shows like August Wilson’s award winning play, ‘Fences’, The Hitman and Smile Orange among others.

It’s true Phoenix Players are dead, probably deceased on the day James Falkland passed away. It’s also true that Phoenix Theatre has rent payment problems, but I’d say the time has come for theatre lovers to rally in support of Phoenix by at least attending their 2017 shows, starting with ‘Pull the other one,’ a British comedy adapted and directed by Tim King’oo. Scheduled to open in early February, the details are still a bit sketchy since the comedy might offend those who still feel uncomfortable watching or talking about topics like drag queens.

‘Pull the other one’ has one drag queen in the story but she’s got an interesting story and the public might learn a thing or two by watching the show.

Albert still lives with his mother who finds a letter addressed to her son signed by Hillary, who she believes is a woman, up until Hillary shows up.   

More details are forthcoming but just as we saw audiences for Kenya National Theatre shows rise in 2016, we’d like to see the same said about Phoenix Theatre in 2017.

Speaking of KNT, the Theatre’s new CEO Edwin Gichangi hasn’t been in the [hot] seat for long but he’s gotten off to a good start. He’s already started renovating Kenya Cultural Centre’s small theatre (Ukumbi Ndogo), which should be ready for performances very soon.

Mr Gichangi’s also just completed the refurbishing of the Steinway Grand Piano that was donated to KNT back in 1956, not long after the National Theatre opened back in 1952.

Finally, Andrew Lloyd Webb and Tim Rice’s world acclaimed musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, will be staged at the National Theatre right around the Easter weekend. Details as to the casting and directing are still forthcoming but we do know that Mr Gichangi and KNT will be collaborating with Kenya Performing Arts Studio to produce a show that we used to watch almost every other year around either Christmas or Easter. It’s good news that it’s being brought back!  

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