According to the organisers of the event being Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company, the inaugural two-day festival brings together theater companies from 12 different countries, in what is hoped will become an annual event and features panel discussions, workshops, and performances that are all geared at telling stories of humanity in different contexts from across the globe.
Meanwhile the founder of Mashirika Performing Arts and creator of the upcoming festival revealed that the festival intends to foster the arts as an effective means of communication and an avenue for solving social problems.
“Art played a crucial role in tackling Rwanda’s immense post genocide challenges; from genocide perpetrators giving truthful testimonies, to victims forgiving perpetrators.
This festival is a remedy to the myth that art is nothing more than entertainment. We hope to avail an avenue where people from different walks of life can come together and speak to each other in the language of art. It will provide an avenue where people from different countries can come together to learn from each other and be empowered to spearhead the healing process in their countries.”
The festival will further give platform to local drama actors to network and share experiences with internationally renowned theater professionals which will boost their theater careers.
The festival kicks off with youth and media panel discussions, and workshops on acting, contemporary dance, and stage design. This will be followed by performances of productions such as Bound Together (Rwanda), Amina’s Stories (Egypt), Mine Every Child (Uganda), and Cut Off My Tongue from Kenya, among others.
The Sunday session will open with panel discussions on media and humanity, led by the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, a workshop about Clay Therapy, and finally performances of Antigone (USA), Dear Children (Sri Lanka/Rwanda), and Desperate to Fight from Ethiopia, among others. The festival will close with a performance of the Rwandan production, Bridge of Roses.
Asked why Mashirika chose the Kigali Memorial Center Amphitheater as a venue for the festival Azeda said:
It (Kigali Memorial Center) is a dark place for us in Rwanda. No one wants to perform in the amphitheatre, because it holds so many memories. But we must as artists go to such dark places, and even the dark places within ourselves too.
Rwanda, the US, Canada, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, and Zimbabwe are the countries participating in the festival.