A Report from ISOKO Rwanda/Canada
“Sinzi ibyo yabwiye abayobozi ariko icyakurikiyeho,
ni uko nashinjwe ibyaha by’intambara. Birasekeje.
Niba intambara ari icyaha, kuki tuzihoramo?
Kuki abantu bose badafatwa ngo bafungwe?
Iyo intambara irangiye batubwira ko ibyo twakoze ari ibyaha
Iyo irangiye nibwo abantu bibuka ko amategeko yabagaho.
Ngo abantu ntibagafate abagore ku ngufu. Ntibakice.
Kurwana intambara ikurikije amategeko – nkaho ari ugukirana, nkaho ari ubupfura.
Nkaho waba urwana ishyaka.”
Stetko, mu ikinamico ISHUSHO (means “Image” in Kinyarwanda)
“The next thing you know I’m being tried for war crimes. Makes me laugh! If war is a crime, why do we keep having them?” Stetko
Production and Tour of The M o n u m e n t Summer 2008:
Towards Sustainable Contemporary Theatre in Rwanda
Our Launching production with Isôko – The Theatre Source – was the African Premiere of Canadian Colleen Wagner’s award-winning drama The Monument, which has been translated into 7 languages and produced globally. The play opened on July 4th 2008, Liberation Day, which marks the end of the 100 days. We opened in Butare in collaboration with the National University of Rwanda, with Jaqueline Umubyeyi, Jean Paul Uwayezu, Solange Umuhire Sonia Uwimbabazi, in the Kinyarwandan translation by Emmanuel Munyarukumbuzi and Anselme NIrere, with director and producer, Jennifer H. Capraru, llghting design and technical direction by Ben Butera, production manager Claude Kamba, communications by Alice Kayibanda, original music by Solange Umuhire,. We then played Kigali at Torero Café, Lycée de Kigali for Tumurere, Le Masison des Jeunes, Club Rafiki, and Ishyo for the 1st Kigali Week of Culture. From September 1st to Election Day on the 15th we toured the 1,000 hills of Rwanda, playing district halls in Gitarama, Butare, Cyangugu, Ruhengeri, Gisenyi and Kibuye,, while September 21 + 22 marked gala performances at the Serena Hotel Kigali for government officials. A lively talk back session follows each performance, and Rwandese filmmaker Christian Gakombe of the Rwanda Cinema Centre is making a documentary.
ISôKO the theatre source is a new international company founded June 2008 in Kigali, which uses contemporary theatre to contribute to social harmony and cultural development in Rwanda. ISOKO is collaborating with local theatre artists, building an ensemble of actors and designers, an audience for theatre, stimulating dialogue on culture, and providing work opportunities for emerging playwrights, actors, directors and designers. ISOKO is founded in the spirit of inter-cultural exchange, to celebrate Rwandese artists, and to further the work of global peace building. Kindly see our web site for further details, images and video, www.isoko-rwanda.org
Play Synopsis In an unnamed country, a young soldier has been convicted of war crimes committed during genocide. Just as he is to be executed, a mysterious woman offers him freedom – at a price. The play is a timeless testament to the choices of ordinary people in not so ordinary circumstances, as it dissects the roles of victim and perpetrator. “Me or you?” wrote Wagner in 1993, as 43 civil wars raged in the world. Can we ever change that into “us”?
Why Theatre in Rwanda? Rwanda has proven to be the perfect setting for this production, due to the country’s clear and steady path of social and cultural reconstruction. We have performed for groups from AVEGA (genocide widows) to students, all of whom connected with the material in astonishing ways, and with our artists through feedback sessions. The production has been extremely vital to Rwandese, as citizens struggle each day to find paths towards healing. Theatre is an art form with which Rwandese have a fascination. As it manifests art for social change through drama, it has proven to be the perfect tool to bring about dialogue around issues concerning civil society, overcoming cultural barriers, peace building, and development.
The Tour On tour, both audiences and officials were very supportive of this hard-edged play, originally set in Yugoslavia. The Ingoro y’ Akarere – local district halls of each town – were all given to the company free of charge. Officials from the education and government sectors often came to give talks after the show. Our timing was fortuitous as the tour coincided with the two weeks leading up to the elections on September 15th. Discussions lasted hours after the performance, and often had to be cut a bit short. We feel our production has set the stage for further workshops, training and cultural collaboration in many communities around the land. Everywhere we played, they always asked us when we would return and play for a longer time. They said we must play in schools, prisons, and at gacaca courts.
In 2009 we plan to tour East Africa, and have secured an invitation to the National Theatre of Uganda. We are keen to contribute to the development of modern Rwandan theatre, and to help share the tough lessons Rwanda has learned, and why this little land continues to be a beacon of successful reconciliation shining in a troubled world.
Originally from Montreal, Jen is Artistic Director of the award-winning Theatre Asylum, where she premieres thought-provoking contemporary theatre by and about women and humanist issues. Most recently she founded ISôKO – the theatre source – in Kigali to help grow Rwandan theatre and bring about social harmony, for whom she directed and produced Colleen Wagner's The Monument on tour in Rwanda. Last season she directed Lullaby for Dark Horse (Dora Nomination for Outstanding Production). Asylum's productions such as BéBé, The Trials, and My Mother's Courage have been developed and toured Canada in co-production with Theatre Passe Muraille, Theatre Centre, National Arts Centre, Saydie Bronfman, and Banff Centre. Jen has been a Guest Director and Lecturer at Acadia University (directed Tony Kushner's The Illusion), University of Victoria (directed Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses), and a Course Director at York University's Glendon College. Since 2005 she has travelled and worked in East Africa, exploring the role culture can play in healing society. In 2006 she was 2nd Script Supervisor on the Canadian feature, Shake Hands with the Devil and her experience working alongside Rwandese prompted her to accept an invitation to give workshops for the Rwanda Cinema Centre www.rwandacinemacenter.org. This led to work for the National University of Rwanda (workshop of Wajdi Mouawad’s Littoral), UNICEF, Kivu Writers, and Mashirika Arts www.mashirika.org. Jen has been a nominee for the Hirsch and McGibbon Directing Awards, a fellow at Schloss Solitude Germany, and an invited director to the Lincoln Centre's Director's Lab, NYC. She completed performance studies at BAADA in London England, later training as a director in Germany at the Landestheater Tübingen and the Volksbühne, Berlin. As well she had the pleasure of being Associate Dramaturg at Factory Theatre for two years through the Metcalf Foundation. For further information, please see the links below.