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Art

Women take centre stage on Nairobi’s theatre scene

Zippy Okoth in Silent Voices
Zippy Okoth in Silent Voices. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG 

Zippy Okoth joins an esteemed assemblage of women who are taking their place and lead on the Kenyan theatre scene. With her chapter two of the Diary of a Divorced Woman, staged last weekend at Kenya National Theatre, her Silence Voices came in the wake of The Brazen Edition and Too Early for Birds, which featured an all-female cast and crew and illustrated how Kenyan women can own, operate and orchestrate a production on their own.

And while Brazen was still in rehearsal, Aleya Kassam and Sitawa Namwalie also found time to co-write and stage Love, Loss and Discovery in Loresho for one night.

The day after Okoth went on stage, June Gachui and Patricia Kihoro costarred at the Arboretum in the improve-comedy show, Because You Said So.

And just a few days before Okoth opened, having not only scripted, produced and directed her one-woman show, Mbeki Mwalimu also opened with the theatre troupe that she’d assembled, produced and directed, called Back to Basics. Mbeki’s choice of script, by Justin Miriichi entitled Legally Insane was very well done. But the storyline ended up being way too misogynous for me.

The mother (Wanjiku Mbuno) got blamed for everything, which I didn’t think was fair, especially as Gilbert Lukalia’s crazy patriarch was a wife beater. In Okoth’s woeful story about her former spouse, Ricky is also a wife-beater as we learned in graphic detail in part one of her ‘Diary’. In part two, Ricky hangs on in spite our belief that Okoth freed herself from this useless man in the first segment of her saga.

She has promised to bring us further installments from her Diary in months to come. One only hopes Ricky is ousted for good since this otherwise strong, resourceful woman, sends an unfortunate message to other women.

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