Wednesday, 8 November 2017

HEARTSTRINGS HITS HOME WITH ‘KENYA FOR SALE’

By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 8 November 2017)

‘Kenya for Sale’ was set to open this past Wednesday night at Alliance Francaise. Instead, Heartstrings Kenya will open tonight and run through Sunday.

Sadly we lost chances to have two extra nights of seeing the latest Heartstrings comedy due to unnecessary rescheduling. This was a loss for Heartstrings’ loyal audiences who prefer coming weeknights.

In contrast to HS loyalists, there are some Kenyan critics who think this ingenious theatre company draws house-full crowds just because they are supposedly ‘rib-tickling’ and consistently ‘hilarious’ in their output of shows. The troupe is criticized because they are ‘teaching’ local audiences that theatre is only about ‘entertainment’, not enlightenment or in-depth exploration of important and timely social issues.

On the contrary, Heartstrings’ shows are indeed entertaining, providing ‘a laugh-a-minute’, especially for locals who understand all the nuanced references embedded in the scripts that relate to today’s and yesterday’s issues, headlines and social media talking points.

One genius thing that Sammy Mwangi and his crew understand about entertainment and enlightening ‘education’ is that it’s easier to get through to people through humor rather than heavy polemics, political tirades, legalistic speeches or boring drones about ‘corrupt institutions’ and ‘sham elections.’

It’s easier to point at Kenyan people’s foibles and psychological flaws, weaving them into comedic scenes that look quite familiar which indeed they usually are.

Somehow, Sammy has a knack for tickling people’s funny bones while simultaneously addressing social traumas and dramas that would otherwise stay buried and unaddressed except when they’re shared with people’s intimate partners or political peers.

So the critics of Heartstrings need to go see their shows, including ‘Kenya For Sale’ which opens tonight at Alliance. According to Sammy who devised this script together with his gifted team, the show is literally about the country being on sale.

Set at the Coast where there’s a big expo underway, one will see how willing locals are to sell off essentials out of a short-sighted sense of value (meaning monetary).

I don’t know how the show gets resolved as I haven’t seen it yet, but Sammy takes note of the fact that expats apparently adore this country ‘more than’ locals do; or at least that would seem to be the case, especially now when political tensions could do enduring damage to our beloved Kenya.

The Heartstrings ensemble includes Victor Nyaata, Jane Wangari, Cyprian Osoro, Silas Ojijo and others. Meanwhile, Sammy Mwangi directs assisted by Ndeng’a.


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