Hadithi Zetu - A Brief History of The Theatre Company of Kenya

The Theatre Company (TTC) is a performance-based organisation, active in performance development and training. It was founded in 1999 by Mũmbi Kaigwa and Keith Pearson. Catherine Enane is the current Managing Director of TTC.

The Theatre Company was registered in 2000 as a company limited by guarantee in Kenya with the aim of providing and creating space for dramatic expression. 

Over the past 19 years, The Theatre Company has been successful in creating dozens of dynamic, innovative performances and been instrumental in the training and development of hundreds of Kenyan performers. It began the first series of ‘Fire by Ten’ in 1999; these are short performances which are designed to give audiences and performers an unusual and exciting performance experience. Since 2008 we have organised an annual workshop or competition for Kenyan writers and asked the company performers to select the texts on which they would like to work. 

The Theatre Company has also had a profound effect on the way in which performances are developed in Kenya. As well as the substantial support offered to the traditional process of writing for performance as provided by the Fire by Ten Project, The Theatre Company has been instrumental in the development of techniques whereby the performers devise their own material. 

Performances have been developed through the technique of engaging the experiences of the performers and synthesising those experiences into performances that can be enjoyed by, and connected to, by our audience members. The list of performances is evidence of this development (Annex 01). For instance The Theatre Company received major exposure and kudos from the UK-based Globe to Globe Shakespeare Project, when we became one of four companies invited from Africa to perform on the London stage with a newly-translated (by Creative Director Ogutu Muraya) Kiswahili language version of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Wanawake wa Heri wa WInsa. This production subsequently toured India and the East African region, and has been written about in doctorate theses and Shakespeare beyond English: A Global Experiment by Emma Cox, of Royal Holloway University. During the same period, we produced the original musical, Shungwaaya, which also toured East Africa and went to Mali as part of the Festival de Theatre de Réalities.

We have recently created the touring show Kimbia (about the runners of the Rift Valley) , the children’s show Attack of the Shidas and Picasso in Kenia with the Dutch company TiNaNiNaNi, A Women Writers Series for the Fire by Ten Touring Series  and a number of individual-based performance projects are in development.

A Man Like You  by Silvia Cassini was named Best Tragedy at the Sanaa Awards of 2016, has been shown In Kenya, USA, Zimbabwe and South Africa and is currently touring Hong Kong and Uganda.

The Sanaa Ponyevu  Project (2017)  is developing theatre performances by special needs children in disadvantaged communities. The boys of the Call Africa Project performed Safari ya Sufferer on tour in Nairobi.

The current focus of our training work is the Performance Laboratory Programme which is funded by the Stichting DOEN Foundation.