It is not every day that you get to experience pure magic or theatre genius. Yet at times, even in the presence of such excellence, most people will not notice it is happening.
The past weeks at Uganda’s premium art space the National Theatre have felt like this, with them, they had the staging of Christopher Mukiibi’s Abassa Nábassa, a lay from one of Uganda’s theatre doyens and yet the feat came and left without the trumpets it needed.
This is not very surprising about the National Theatre for they host a big percentage of the year that are brilliant shows but do close to nothing when it comes to publicising them, at the end, they end up with a half-full auditorium.
Christopher Mukiibi’s saga was, however, fairly attended and the fact that it stayed at the theatre for close to a week was yet another feat, most shows at the National Theatre barely last a weekend.
The play is about a neighbourhood coming of age, with many people moving in, while others are leaving.
The play attempts to cast a diverse cast of actors and theatre makers one can easily consider legends of theatre – thus you’re getting up close with actors such as Mukiibi himself, Dickson Zizinga, and Annet Nandujja and Ibrahim Ssematimba, among others.
Written in 1976, the play follows two friends that are also neighbours at Toga Street, Dan and Kasirye are two respected family men on the street, however, there is more going on than meets the eye.
The writing of the production is probably one of the things that makes it a classic, it produces all the major characters that define a story – you have the protagonist and antagonist, their support system, and the jokers.
Now for most of the production, these jokers deliver the story to the audience, they carry the plot from one place to the next and through them, we notice that humans may not be the same but don’t differ as much.
The story is carried by these men who clean shoes and run kiosks, they know who is playing with students, who are cheating on their wife, who is stealing from whom, and who is violating what.
The play presents a lot of themes on love, trust, and morality that seem to resonate with the world we live in in 2022, even when the original text was written in 1976.
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