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Art

Thespians transform blog and a fairy tale for stage

Bilal Wanjau
Bilal Wanjau co-stars in Breathe: stories by Jackson Biko opens tonight at Alliance Francaise. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU 

Jackson Biko writes about all sorts of people and places, getting his stories read all over East Africa and beyond.

He is also an award-winning blogger whose bikozulu.co.ke blog is read by thousands of loyal fans who eagerly await his weekly posts.

Most importantly right now, bikozulu’s stories have been adapted for stage by Mbeki Mwalimu of Back to Basics productions. Entitled “Breathe: stories by Jackson Biko”, this unique storytelling session opens tonight at Alliance Francaise and runs through the weekend.

Directed by the ingenious Gilbert Lukalia who is also one of the star-studded cast, Mbeki (who is also the founder of B2B) and Gilbert assembled some of Nairobi’s finest actors to be part of this innovative, original show. They include Martin Githinji, Mary Mwikali, Nick Ndeda, Wanjiku Mburo and Bilal Wanjau as well as Daisy Tembo, Bokeba Mbotela, Wakio Mzenge and Gilbert. The show has been set up almost orchestrally, with the full cast on stage at the outset and the end. And then, as if like oceanic tides, the cast members will roll in and out depending on which of the stories they will tell.

What is ingenious is also the way the stories are told. They are not simply narrated; they are dramatised and also shared among several voices, being either Bikozulu or the characters whose stories have been adapted for stage. “We have been careful to only use Biko’s words,” says Mbeki who underscores that while she has selected the stories (around 10) and Gilbert has set them into that orchestral-style, the script itself is all Bikozulu or just Jackson Biko.

Meanwhile, Aperture Africa Productions is all set to put on “Cinderella”, accompanied by a live 13-piece orchestra!

This is possibly the best known children’s fairy tale in the world. The tale of the poor orphan girl (Stephaniah Lago) who ultimately finds her Prince Charming (Tirath Padam) is a classic. But it will be uniquely told this year as directed by Amar Desai.

It runs from October 26 to October 28 at the Oshwal Centre auditorium.

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