Category: Dance and Theatre

Writing Plays; What Is It?

“More than any other forms of writing, plays are meant to be heard, touched, seen. While writing a script, the playwright is offering an action, an idea to which the audience immediately reacts, individually and collectively, causing the actor in their next line to respond in return and on it goes; approximating life.” An essay on playwriting by Angella J. Emurwon, Ugandan playwright.

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New Directions in Contemporary Dance

“There is a lot that needs to be done in the form of research and documentation of existing dance initiatives and styles. … Structures that support the growth of dance in Uganda as a whole will provide the much-needed impetus for the sector. … The health sector is also an area that can benefit from dance through body conditioning for injured people. … The utilisation of dance for other purposes, such as dance in education, is vital to the development of a sector that should have mass appeal due to the importance of cultural groupings.” Samuel Lutaaya has fresh ideas for the dance industry in Uganda.

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Censorship and the Arts in Uganda

“As the eighth edition of the Wazo Talking Arts proved, while the expectation is of artists to be at the forefront of debate and to challenge the status quo, artists are also a product of their culture, religion, and politics; their work cannot be separated from their experience. In other words artists are human beings, artists can be frightened, and artists can be ideologically conservative or liberal. If there is one attribute that artists need to create meaningful, challenging, even great work in the face of possible censorship, then that attribute is courage.” Farida Nabalozi reflects on Censorship and the Arts in Uganda.

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The harsh rebirth of professional theatre in Uganda

“The 1970s were for Uganda the years when the lights started to go out. In the ranks of Ugandans who had fled the country, and who never made it out of the decade, and a big rank it was, dramatists were among the number. Soldiers appeared at the National Theatre in 1977 and dragged then director of the National Theatre, Byron Kawadwa from rehearsals. A military tribunal had in secret passed a death sentence on him and five of his colleagues.” AK Kaiza reflects on the recent history of theatres in Uganda.

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On Cultural Destiny: The Klaus Wachsmann Music Archive

(As a society), we are responsible for documenting, studying and understanding the musical heritage that is available. Many contemporary musicians are looking for avenues to make their work more authentic. … The Klaus Wachsmann Music Archive would be the perfect place to establish more accurate study by those same musicians who are searching for ‘authenticity’ to research on various instrument, and to hear recordings of the canons of master players in Uganda’s cultural legacy.

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Dance Transmissions Festival 2012: A dialogue in dance

The 3rd Dance Transmissions Festival (DTF) 2012 began in earnest with a flashmob of dancers who were new to contemporary dance as the opening act. It was a chance for new entrants to the genre to get an experience of what it means to be a contemporary dancer. Samuel Lutaaya, a dancer and choreographer himself, reviews DTF ’12 for startjournal.org, and explains why some pieces worked while other failed.

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10 Lessons learned from a well-organized Bayimba

With the exception of the Laba! Arts festival, there are not so many festivals on the Ugandan calendar. So Bayimba gave us a feel of what a festival should be like. In the words of its Director Faisal Kiwewa, “Celebrating the feeling of belonging and experiencing the freedom of culturality.” And while at it, celebrate culture in all its diversity, so it seemed. Elizabeth Namakula reviews the Bayimba.

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Fun factory: Cracking a rib

Fun Factory visited the Bayimba Festival for the first time, and their debut was one of the most anticipated shows. The group performed to thunderous laughter and applause. To celebrate Uganda’s Golden Jubilee, Fun Factory will also stage 50 skits across two nights called “50 years of madness”. Elizabeth Namakula reviews.

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To Die a Martyr: The story of a Ugandan Tragicomedy

“Throughout the narrative, are weaved metaphors in the form of rain—which ironically pours outside for the duration of the play—rivers tying each scene to the next, like a powerful memory.” A review of The River and the Mountain, a play written by Beau Hopkins, directed and executive produced by Angella Emurwon and produced by David Cecil of Tilapia Culture, by Serubiri Moses.

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Jane Bussmann: The comedy of tragedies

The British comedian and author Jane Bussmann recently did her stage performance of the book ‘The Worst Date Ever (or How It Took a Comedy Writer to Expose Africa’s Secret War)’ at MishMash, Kampala in front of a 600-strong crowd. By turns, her story was pathetic, funny and heartbreaking. Ugandan columnist Mildred Apenyo reviews for Startjournal: “To make art out of tragedy is a hard but essential thing. To make comedy out of sadness is more than essential.”

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Dancing the night away

“The first ever article I wrote for START Journal was about the contemporary dance scene in Uganda as I had experienced it. Quite a number of developments have taken place since that article; changes in educational institutions, genre crossovers, and reduced financial support to name a few matters that will be addressed in this update.” Samuel Lutaaya updates the readers on the state of contemporary dance in Uganda.

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Outlook 2012: Six leading Ugandan arts and culture professionals share their visions

Faisal Kiwewa, Director of Bayimba Cultural Foundation, Adong Judith Lucy, a renowned playwright, film maker and arts practitioner, John Bosco Kyabaggu, production manager at the Uganda National Cultural Centre, Ronex Ahimbisibwe, a renowned visual artist, Maurice Kirya, musician and brainchild of the Maurice Kirya Experience, and Joel Sebunjo, acclaimed Ugandan world music artist, all share some thoughts about 2011 and 2012.

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Breaking Free, a fusion of life

Urban dance can comfortably be twinned with contemporary dance. Any number of styles will combine to bring out an important message as was exhibited in the Breaking Free production on a cool Kampala evening on January 14. “Hip hop and dance potentially hold the key to the next stage in the development of the arts in Uganda. More productions in the mold of Breaking Free will be needed. And the public will have to be nudged in the right direction by experts in the area.” Steven Tendo reviews for Startjournal.org.

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Why Art? An essay by Doreen Baingana

“As Ugandan artists, we must ask ourselves whether we should strive to make our work more relevant to our communities and if so, how. Some would argue that it is enough that the work is relevant to the artist, and if it is coupled with genuine creativity, will automatically become relevant to the rest of society. My hope is that we can all engage in this discussion of what art can and cannot do for us as individuals and as a society. The public debate on the value of the arts and humanities must become a deeper and more intelligent one.” Ugandan author Doreen Baingana reviews last year’s Dance Transmission.

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Sam Ibanda: Spreading the passion for Ugandan contemporary dance

Uganda has more than 50 tribes. Each of these has a dance that defines them. It is from this rich pool that dancers like Sam Ibanda can create great dances to weave into contemporary routines. Other dancers have introduced traditional dance into their patterns to great effect. Ibanda has learnt well that when he travels out to present to an international audience, he will have to be original. Contemporary dance from Uganda must be truly an identity.

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