Performance of Bunraku by Kenyan Puppeteers

Monday, February 06, 2012

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kenya Puppetry Festival a huge success

The Kenya Puppetry Theatre Platform 2011, as a mini festival was a pre - festival activity towards 2012 Kenya International Puppetry Festival (KIPF), it aimed at providing a platform for scholars, cultural practitioners, the media, puppeteers and other individual artists and the general public to interact with Kenya existing puppetry companies which  showcased the best performances ever, ; Bunraku, The last man standing and Atieno Yo!
Screening of puppetry in TV shows and films in between intervals.

Monday, July 11, 2011


The old Men of Africa

XYZ SHOW, IT’S A WRAP! By Tony Mboyo

The much popular and hilarious Kenyan political television satire, the XYZ series finally closes its season 4 curtain much to the disappointment of its growing audience.  The show, which uses latex hand puppets to portray popular Kenyan political and social scenarios in a side-splitting and satirical manner, aired its season finale episode on the 10th of July this year.  For the Kenyan audience, the season had been one of the most exhilarating and perhaps most dramatic since the inception of the show and many a fan felt that it ended just as it was getting sweet as a gum drop. 
The XYZ show, created by cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa who popularly goes by the pen name ‘Gado’, started airing in 2009 on Citizen TV and has since moved to KISS TV.  Currently the show boasts of over 120,000 likes just on its facebook page and the number keeps rising every day.

Despite it extensive popularity and growing demand among Kenyan audiences, the show has not been spared of woes and controversy, Season 4 saw the dramatic shift from Citizen TV to KISS TV after alleged differences between the show and the TV station. The shift was regarded as a plunge to many viewers who expressed their disappointment on social media platforms as many of the upcountry viewers do not receive the channel which airs only in an around Nairobi.  However the XYZ show producers were quick to remedy the situation by introducing a free streaming of the season’s episodes on their internet page.  Now, everyone with internet access around the world can view the season’s past and current episodes just by the click of a mouse.

XYZ Season 4 also saw the departure of the famous Jonah Lessit, as the show anchor and the introduction of a new show host, Keff Joinange who is actually a latex double for the deep voiced Jeff Koinange, a former CNN reporter and K24 presenter.  On a lighter note, the last time Jonah Lessit appeared on the show he was a pirate sailing the East African coast with a band of other bandits pillaging and plundering unsuspecting sailors and sea merchants.  On an even more dramatic twist, XYZ producers and crew were treated to a rare occasion when Jeff Koinange himself visited the XYZ shooting studios and demanded to meet with his latex double, Keff Joinange,  who was the more excited to meet his original as they shared a rather creepy moment at ‘the bench’.

The XYZ show audience is now hopeful that upcoming seasons will be even more thrilling as the country is gradually approaching 2012 which is regarded to many as a highly political year owing to the fact that the general elections are being earlier then.  Whether the show will survive the hot political landscape or not is a matter of wait and see, but to the Kenyan viewers the focus will obviously be on how XYZ will wade in the murky waters of 2012.
With great creativity and a focused production team the fans expect future episodes to be better as the sky can only be the limit.  We hope that season 5 will not take forever to get underway and quench the two months thirst of the fans. 

Happy season break XYZ.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Puppet Theatre Platform - Kenya: Upcoming project: 100 Stories 100 days for Kenya

The Puppet Theatre Platform - Kenya: Upcoming project: 100 Stories 100 days for Kenya

The Puppet Theatre Platform - Kenya: Upcoming project: 100 Stories 100 days for Kenya

Upcoming project: 100 Stories 100 days for Kenya

Tony Mboyo

100 Stories, 100 Days: A visual and performing art installation project in the city of Nairobi

Project Overview

“100 stories, 100 days” is a visual and performing art installation project aimed at inspiring nationhood and promoting national cohesion through artistic installation art.  The project ultimate goal is to erect an enormous art installation in the city that will be made up of true stories of ordinary and extraordinary Kenyans from diverse backgrounds.

A team comprising of visual artists, puppeteers, a structural installation artist, a photographer and filmmakers will be established to participate in the overall implementation of the project. The team will be responsible for training, design and overall artistic direction of the project.

The project will utilize 25 young volunteer visual artists, puppeteers and performing art students and upcoming artists based in the various art centers and institutions in and around Nairobi.  The volunteers will participate in week long training on installation art, topical issues, and visual and performing art techniques.  The participants will be expected to research on significantly outstanding and inspiring stories from the Kenyan people on diverse issues.  Topical issues shall include peace building, violence, poverty and poverty eradication, human rights, leadership, environment, and other cross cutting issues.  100 stories representing Kenyan diversity through race, colour, ethnicity, gender, age, health status, social and economic status, political affiliations, ability, religion and beliefs, shall be collected and documented.  The stories shall reflect and present the struggles, hopes, challenges and aspirations of the Kenyan people in the contemporary context.  The 100 stories shall be presented in form of puppet characters, photos and video clips.

The process shall culminate in the construction and erection of the enormous art installation that will be assembled and decked with the 100 story presentation for the public to interact with.  The space around the installation shall be vibrant with artistic performances, interactive discussions and materials dissemination facilitated by the volunteers.  The installation shall remain on the space for a specific period of time and will be removed or relocated to another urban centre.  The entire process from launching to wrap up is expected to take 100 days.

The project will operate 7 part and full time staff members and 25 young volunteer artists. In addition, a governing body comprising of art and governance experts will be appointed for the overall sanctioning of the project.  Periodic evaluation will be conducting to assess: (a) the effectiveness of art installation in stirring nationhood and national cohesion among the public, (b) helping the volunteer youth to become better artistic communicators and facilitators of national issues and (c) improvement of the vibrancy of the city.

Suggested Partners
Kenya Cultural Centre
Nairobi City Council
The GoDown art centre
Goethe Institute
Kuona Trust
The Theatre Company
Big Ideas
KISS 100
Metro FM
Kenya Grips
Radi Drummers

Current Projects: Atieno

A Puppet Show
  1. Artistic Statement:

Atieno Yo is an artistic project by Kenyan puppetry theater enthusiasts which is a departure from traditional conventional theatre pieces and ushering in a new style of performing with other experimental techniques.  Atieno Yo is conceptualized as an African narrative yet performed as a musical, puppetry and object theatre piece.  The performance is expected to be showcased locally in Kenya, east Africa and finally to festivals around the world in celebration of puppetry as a diverse performing art form.

Atieno Yo, is a work in progress that was conceptualized in January 2009 and is expected to be developed throughout the year and to grow according to its interaction with various audiences.
Long term objective
To develop a growing young Kenyan and African audience for local cultural and artistic performances including theatre arts, puppetry, dance, music,

Immediate objectives
Ø      To bring together artists from diverse performing art genre through a puppetry performance

Ø      To create a unique out of the ordinary performance through experimental creation

Ø      To showcase a contemporary object and puppetry theatre production in the communities

Ø      To move puppetry theatre to the next level

The playwright and puppetry director of the art piece will use the artistic experimentation as a creative platform for ensuring the performance moves from a mere concept to its full realization.  It is expected that at the end of the devising, the performance through its Kenyan tour will workshop other puppetry theatre enthusiasts in the performance style.

No. of Puppeteers (3)
Only three (3) actors are expected to be involved in the performance. They will be responsible fro the technical and artistic unfolding of the piece.  All the actors will multitask in ensuring that all aspects of the show are taking place.
The playwright and the puppetry director (all from Kenya) will participate in the Lab
  1. Bios of participants:

Playwright – Anthony Mboyo
Anthony Mboyo is an established puppetry theatre artistic writer and a professional puppeteer.  His major areas of career and interest have been professional puppetry theatre development and community development through the use of theatre and other participatory methodology.
His previous productions include The Man of Stone, a shadow puppetry, figures and installations performance which premiered at the International Puppetry Festival in Nairobi Kenya, October 2006. Other productions include Puppet Mania 1, Dustbin Street and The Bite all of which have been showcased locally and internationally.

 He has been involved in international collaborative project with other artistic companies most notably Living Things an object and puppetry theatre collaboration with Warner and Consorten a company based in the Netherlands which toured Europe and Africa in 2002. 
The most recent project is Memories in Transit a collaborative Sculpture tableaux project on migration and forced movement in collaboration with African and Asian artists coordinated by @ culture network from India in January 2007, Nairobi at the World social forum and a one year puppets for peace project

Puppet Maker /director – Jack Omondi

Jack Omondi is a professional theater, puppetry and folk media consultant

In 1994 he underwent training conducted by a South African puppetry group called African Research and Educational Puppetry Programme (ARREP) as a puppeteer. I started performing with puppets immediately after the training earning a second training on TOT in the use of puppets and drama. As a puppetry trainer he has trained well over 300 puppeteers in Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea, Tanzania, Somalia, USA and Lesotho. In some of the countries he was responsible for setting up puppetry networks and coordinating their activities.

Through his experience he has interacted and worked with world famous puppeteers like Gary Friedman – South Africa/ Australia (who was one of his trainers and mentors)
Mag’isch Theater – Holland, Gregory Shwank- German, among others. As a Director /performer, with his partner they have produced numerous educational and entertaining puppetry productions like “the bite”, which focused mainly on corruption “Jumbe” which dealt with drug use and abuse among the youth. Two of his most recent productions are  “man of stone”  which was showcased in the Kenya international puppetry festival in 2006.and “Kuna vile” which was a multi disciplinary media production bringing together artists of different backgrounds to fuse their genres of art with puppetry.

more details will follow soon...