Today marked not only the first day of the festival, but the first of our two rehearsals in the theatre space before our performances this weekend. Our rehearsal didn't start until the afternoon, so I had a little time to do a quick video tour of the incredible place where we are staying.
The Ndere theatre troupe was founded in 1984 as a means to combat colonialism by presenting realistic portrayals of African life and addressing the needs to find the local communities. In 1997 they expanded to a nationwide network to fill the void left by the closure of the Uganda National Theatre. It is so inspiring to see the work they are doing here with limited resources. They have an incredible passion for the arts and they recognize the need for theatre that is urgent, truthful, and that represents their community. They now have over 2,000 theatre groups all across Uganda - and they make me feel more than ever that I need to be doing work that makes a difference.
If you work in the theatre, you know that the first tech rehearsal is usually long, stressful, and a bit disorganized. Now try having your first tech rehearsal on a foreign continent that you arrived at the day before, in a theater you've never seen, and without your director. In spite of all that, we managed to get through the show and have some fun along the way. Shout out to John Keller, our castmate whose luggage got left behind in Dubai, forcing him to wear the clothes he traveled in for the second day in a row. They actually made all of our set pieces down here to our specifications so we wouldn't have to travel with them. There is a guy named "Uncle Pete" who has a shed behind the theater and can build just about anything. Thank you Uncle Pete!
The day ended with the opening reception of the 2016 Kampala International Theatre Festival. There was food, drinks, music, and we got to see a powerfully moving performance of "The Audience Must Say Amen," which was written, directed and performed by Peter Kayagi.
Just another day in Uganda. Man, I need some sleep...see you tomorrow!