Changing Spectres: Interweaving Loops in Kenyan Theatre
Shikuku, Emmanuel Tsikhungu
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Theatre critics have proclaimed the death of serious theatre on the stages of Kenya, arguing that all that could be seen are slapstick comedies which cannot survive beyond stage performance. Theatre and art in general is not static; it feeds on the changing needs of humans that produce and consume it. An analysis of the different facets of Theatre in Kenya since 1960 revealed that there is indeed a weaving loop which sustains the interest in theatre, although these genres mutate with changes in socio-economic and political realities of both the producers and the consumers. Noting that there are several milestones that could be used to determine the development of theatre, it is observed that this development, far from being linear, is multidirectional and multi-generic so that theatre could grow out of oral narrative as it has been the tradition as well as comedies off-shooting from day to day life engagements. This article, however, conclusively argues that the concept of intermediality is slowly catching up in the Kenyan theatre and this has blinded many critics into thinking that theatre is dying when in actual sense it is simply fusing itself with other genres/media to come up with other forms of performance.