On Thursday I took a break from covering the 2016 presidential race to indulge in my favorite form of escapism: plays and musicals at the National theater.
Instead of listening to the same speech at over three campaign events a day, I wanted to lose myself to the heady dreams, hilarious squabbles and heartbreaking fates of love.
But I also came to the theater to feel a world apart — not just from the crude, improvised drama of the live televised presidential trails, but also from the familiar lies and drama of ‘politactors’.
National theater isn’t necessarily better, but its distinct pleasures and surprises can be thrilling, not least all of the acting royalty!
Kampala Amateur Dramatics Society (KADS) are rarities at the theater; appearing just once in a while in a whole year.
While no one clapped when they first took the stage (entrance applause is still a no-no here), several audience members cheered and screamed (which are becoming a bit more common).
They indeed had a big surprise this time. Set in the month when holiday makers have started jetting in, their play centered on whites who were visiting Uganda for the first time.
With performers, the queen of ice, Anna, Sarah and Christopher, not forgetting a group of over ten children, they all make memorable appearances, evoked by makeshift costumes and their dazzling make-up that strike your eyes on first sight.
That’s without even mentioning the rare, much-anticipated visit to Uganda.
They have their audience – comprising of mainly whites sussed, getting them noisily involved one moment before holding them quietly rapt the next.
The key is in variety and ingenuity, as their cast – ranges from children to adults to cross dressing.
And the music – central, as ever, to the company’s work – ensures that this is no ordinary play.
The music grew louder until finally booming with Meghan Trainor’s Grammy award winning hit ‘All About That Bass’. I found myself nodding along with the familiar chords, and noticed that my neighbor on the left was moving his head to the beat too.
But later, halfway the song, dozens of audience members nodded in time and even sang along to the tune. I was less familiar with that song, but the whites love it!
Performing renditions of hits like Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ and Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Phunk’, the play turned into gig, while the audience excitedly clapped and sang along.
As with all of KADS’ work, the humour and detail of a show that considers parents as much as kids.
There are plenty of grinning asides for the grownups, along with some entertainingly wry and booing especially of the villain, the self acclaimed queen of the ice.
But really the joy lies in the silliness and wonder; especially when they finally made it to Uganda and hardships they faced among which included differentiating between Rolex the watch and ‘Chapati’.
Sure, their audiences are shooting up faster for these dramatists as compared to other groups that hold their plays from the same venue, but we know what that’s about.
They are to present three plays with the other two happening today and tomorrow respectively.
Tickets go for Shs20k at the National Theater but it’s worth!
I just can’t wait to catch their second play!