Theatres have been ghost facilities for more than a year now since Covid-19 virus struck. Artists retreated to their homes as impact of lockdown and social distancing manifested creative industry.
However, the recent premiere of Amararo, a multidimensional stage production recounting the global pandemic times, has rekindled the good old days of live performance.
Directed by Michael Makembe and Dough Letheren, the live theatre performance which premiered on November 14 at the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA)’s auditorium in Kigali, as part of the 2021 Hamwe Festival, is a unique art painting tough times caused by Covid-19 pandemic in the minds of audience, especially the lockdown.
The opening scene introduces the audience to gentleman holding an accordion while singing. It is a calm music of Opera make. A giant installation of a facemask can be seen on stage to connect audience to the subject matter of the play.
Starring Bobo Elvis, Michael Makembe, Greta Ngabire, Abdoul Mujyambere, Regis Bingo, Mackson Maxmiliene, Impakanizi, Weya Viatora, and Dough Letheren, all from various performing arts, creating, music, composing, dance, and Poetry, the 40-minutes production is inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic miseries which they all share and associate with.
Amararo, a Kinyarwanda word meaning shelter is well aligned with the fact that the pandemic pushed most into seeking, and taking shelter.
Clad in seemingly a military fatigue, the artists are onto a quest, of probably searching to discover what has befallen the world, and whether they serve a greater good in this all. It is evident how unlike how most societies perceived it, the lockdown confined froze all entertainment activities.
With live narrations, the play revisits unseen events that were unveiled by the lockdown; from painting the confinement mood, where life and the world’s fast-paced life was paused to deeper contemplation of what was unveiled during the lockdown.
Live narrations area accompanied by music, poetry and dance performances. Narrations here take us into, and through young men and women’s minds as they inquisitively wonder and ponder on what to and not to do when the world came to a standstill.
From the lockdown, which sparked fun, to idleness, solitude, sadness, a reflective aspect of how performing arts was paused, and as essential jobs prevailed, artists and their expressive spaces were shut, since they call for live social interactions.
This sparks a debate, that make them wonder whether they are at the core of society.
The stage is a cocktail of art installations, homestead mood, and a live music production station set aside. From on spot beats, live piano sounds, to general sound effects not only to back up presentations but also steer the mood for every scene.