Playwright back in action on stage

In the early days of the 21st century, Steve Muturi was acclaimed as one of Kenya’s leading playwrights.

Muturi may be best remembered for the first two Nativity musicals that he staged first at Braeburn Theatre with the now-defunct Catalyst Africa theatre troupe in 2000 and then the following year at the Kenya National Theatre again with Catalyst Africa.

Both shows were rousing successes, especially in 2000 when he had the comedic trio called Ridulous playing the three wise men and the popular actor Edward Kwach playing the leading role of Joseph.

“We had to turn away four house-full crowds since there was no space for them at Braeburn,” recalls Muturi.

To remedy that problem, the show moved to the spacious National Theatre and again the show did well. But who knows what went amiss after that. Muturi stopped writing for the stage and shifted to scripting for television. His Kenya Nativity concept didn’t die however.

“We were moving forward towards making a full length feature film,” he says. “But at the last minute the executive producer pulled out.” That meant his dream of making his ingenious story into one of Kenya’s first musical films died.

Admitting he simply went underground after that, Muturi says he writes several television scripts a week, often in the dead of night from around 3am until dawn. That’s when he finds the city noise is almost silent and his artistic juices flow more freely.
“I send my scripts via email and get paid via M-Pesa, so I hardly have to leave my home,” he says.

All that changed, however, when Phoenix Players board member Lorna Irungu recalled Muturi’s brilliant Christmas musicals of a decade ago.

After consulting with her board, she called him to script a new Kenyan Nativity 2014. This he readily did. It opens at Phoenix Theatre November 28.