Monday, 19 November 2018

The Hypochondriac

So proud of my friend Pieter, who runs Thespis Consulting. He directed a play at Kigali Cultural Village last night with an all-Rwandan cast. Molière's The Hypochondriac:

A French play by Molièr, spoken in English, performed by Rwandans, directed by a Dutch guy.

How much more international can you get?

I've put the programme online here

It was actually my first time inside Kigali Cultural Village, which is just at the end of the road with Marriott and Serena on it. It's a collection of several tents for events. Really beautifully lit as you walk in.


I meant to ask Pieter before I left home whether it was posh or casual dress. I assumed casual, but as I walked in, there were loads of people in ball gowns and suits. It's only when I followed them, I realised I was in the wrong tent - someone was getting married! 

Quick about-turn. I eventually saw a tent with the EU sign outside and assumed that was probably where a production of Molière would be taking place, if anywhere.

I was right, and just like the TEDx talk, there was a full house.

I had absolutely no idea that the play was from the 17th century (1673), so 345 years old. It was only the second time I'd been to the theatre in all my years in Rwanda. The first time was Butare Deaf Theatre back in 2008. I'm not counting Ugandan cabaret at Pasadena in this. 

Theatre here is often a showcase of dance, drumming and visual arts, and in the villages it usually contains an HIV awareness-raising message, as a lot of theatre is commissioned by NGOs to spread health messages in rural areas. It was really interesting to watch a European play delivered in a European style, with a few amendments. There is one soliloquy where a guy is telling his reluctantly-betrothed how beautiful she is, and that was delivered in Kinyarwanda, comparing her soft skin to the gorillas in Musanze, and her slender neck to a giraffe... 

There was a lot of laughter throughout the performance, and the jokes came across well, which was impressive as it's quite wordy English. But, as Pieter explained, the play may be over three-hundred years old, but the themes are universal and still relevant: parental pressure to marry someone you don't love, a rich guy being surrounded by friends who adore his money more than him, someone pretending to be sick for sympathy... everyone can relate.

For most of the actors, this was their first time in front of a live audience, and they did superbly. 

This is my friend Pieter sitting to the right of the stage. They put the play together in five weeks, which was really impressive.

Afterwards, I took a little wander around the tent - it's really nice in there, showcasing various Rwandan craft makers.

Reception desk with reed mats, agaseki peace baskets,
bark cloth, milk urns, drums and spears.

Imigongo paintings, traditionally from magic huts.

After the performance Pieter and I went for drinks and dinner at the top of Ubumwe Hotel, which has a fabulous view of the city.

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