To: Kevin Kimani, KENYA INTERNATIONAL THEATRE FESTIVAL
FROM. Margaretta wa Gacheru
Date: November 17, 2017
ABSTRACT of Talk I will give at the festival
LINKING ACADEMIA WITH (THEATRICAL) PRACTICE
Q: Why the gap between academia and theatre practitioners
A: 1. No formal drama schools comparable to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts).
2. Kenyan theatre departments very new.
3. No playwriting tradition comparable to UK’s William Shakespeare
4. Academics have rarely taken their teaching or practice out to public places
5. It was only in 1969 that Ngugi wa Thiong’o led a literature revolution, transforming English/European lit. focus into Kenyan focus with oral literature at the core.
6. Oral lit focus led to appreciation of orature linked to performance and theatre, but again this is very new.
7. despite Schools drama festival tradition, theatre was never seen as career path so theatre pursued as hobby only
8. Performance in local languages initiated by Ngugi even though many Africans had grown up with home story tellers. But they were never seen as professional artists or thespians. Local language theatre by Ngugi, Wahome Mutahi, and now Tash and Luo entertainers like David Opondoe
9. Ngugi was first to fully bridge the gap between academia and grassroot, theatre practice. But look where that got him! A big reason why there continues to be gap between academia and theatre practitioners