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Art

‘Roll the Dice’ turns newcomers into stars

 Roll the Dice
Cast of Bilal Mwaura's Roll the Dice' at the Kenya National Theatre. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU 

Actors Nice Githinji and Bilal Mwaura have done a beautiful thing, the fruition of which was staged the last three nights at the Kenya Cultural Centre Gallery.

‘Roll the Dice was born out of a three-month workshop that Githinji organised after auditioning a slew of newcomers to Nairobi theatre. Most them were university students who not only were mentored by Githinji and several other local luminaries best known (as she and Mwaura are) for their performances on stage, film and TV.

The students were also encouraged to tell their stories, including the challenges they face, be they academic, social, psychological or financial. It was from their stories that Mwaura fashioned the script that was staged Tuesday through last night.

Tuesday’s premiere performance of Roll the Dice was reserved for Kenya’s professional theatre fraternity that came out to watch the show, lend moral support and gently critique the performance. As such, the official opening on Wednesday had a sheen, polish and cohesion that hadn’t been quite so visible the night before.

It’s still a story centred around students tempted by everything from sex, drugs, booze and the juggling for power. But by Wednesday, people’s motives were clearer, particularly those of Suleiman (Vitalis Waweru), the student leader concerned about his social status once he learns his professor father (Keith Chuaga) has impregnated one of his students.

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Anabel (Violet Bijura) already has a boyfriend, Kyalo (Neville Ignacius). But once he hears she’s not only three months’ pregnant; she’s also been with the professor for two years, he nearly strangles her death. She’s only saved by her friend Kami (Lucy Wahitu).

But Kami can’t save her from Suli who hears about a potentially lethal drug that he gets from his classmate Alex ‘the alchemist (Cliff Njeru). Anabel is torn between aborting her twins or keeping them, especially since the prof (who’d previously broken multiple promises) now wants to marry her.

She’s confused but not suicidal. But she did drink herself silly during the ‘bash’ organised by Denise (Valentine Njeru), the university student ‘escort’ who socialises and serves local politicians but just got trashed by one who stole all her cash. She and Suleiman cook up a scheme to save his father’s and his reputations, although Denise hadn’t bargained for Suli’s deadly trick.

Roll the Dice ends tragically, but there’s a moral to the story: actions have consequences.

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