This is how we can breath life into threatre

Sunday February 06 2022
Carole Karemera pic

Actress and Artistic Director Carole Karemera. PHOTO | FILE


Actress and theatre director Carole Karemera is one of the most experienced directors entertainment industry boasts of. She is the co-founder and director of Ishyo Arts Centre, through which she has trained many for live theatre and film. 

Karemera has actively been vested in theater and film since the 90s, during which she has produced, trained and directed local and international theatre productions.

Looking at the evolution of African theatre through the years, is it growing?

I can’t describe all countries’ history and patterns, but from my experience, I think that things have moved on quite a lot. Not necessarily following the same path and objectives though. If I go south; I think that theatre there is going backward. 

Considering the theatre that we read back then in the 80s and 90s for me was far more relevant than what is present. Although they have strong and huge theatre cultures, infrastructure, and great writers in place, I find this less relevant to their present-day communities.

Before, when I started practicing, West African theatre was so much looking to Europe as its role model and produced plays that appealed to the French people, then further focused onto their audience since it is large, and the countries speak almost the same languages.


But for the past seven to eight years, we see much more movement from the West to Central Africa, to the South too, where it is a new generation of play writers and directors of structures who are, more willing to tell stories on stage in close collaboration with other Africans, depending lesser in the European validation. 

In North Africa, I know the writers, but less of the scene. Tunisia stands out, but I’ve only seen what is presented across  international festivals, which is a small portion.

Where does the new normal caused by Covid-19 leave us?

I do profoundly hope that there is no new-normal because there the normal was completely abnormal. Based on the way the world was treating others, and how we treat our lives hasn’t been normal.

Of course, people have been hit in their own planned life, it is real, but it has helped us learn to accept things as they are. The lockdown further awakened and channeled audiences into consuming unique creative spaces. People more resorted to consuming more Art content than before.

The Arts build a sense of intercohesion, and bind people to one another, lining them from anxiety and depression brought by the pandemic. It is from that that we need to put the Arts practice at the center of the community’s development.

With Covid-19 to have greatly affected mostly the Arts sector, theatre is a practice that has greatly been affected, what has this meant to you Theatre practitioners?

Looking at the practice, as Artists we for times forget to look at the person next to us, next door, and have mostly fronted our travels, and careers. The performance Arts scene shares the same. 

For 26 years I hadn’t been kept in a single place as I had to travel for performances and work, but due to the lockdown, I stayed for six months.

We need each other, and this is what we have lost and is missing today since we only get this once in the same room with people.

From your experience, what mainly does African theatre need?

We need lesser external intervention or facilitators to meet, talk, produce and collaborate. This is a good sign and takes time.

For now, people are looking at what they would love to do with theatre as a tool in voicing certain realities, while  having more people, especially the young generation say what they would like from their point of view without interference.