Theatre For One: We are Here (Nairobi Edition) will make its world premiere at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) on September 15, running online on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays until September 26.
The personal theatrical experience takes place in a unique one-on-one format between the audience member and performer, with six micro-plays unfolding live, on a special digital platform.
Expanding on the success of last year’s US production, Theatre for One: We Are Here is a collaboration between The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, the US-based Octopus Theatricals, and Kenya-based Nairobi Musical Theatre Initiative and Rainmaker Limited. The performances feature six female Kenyan playwrights/actors and include Kenyan directors and producers collaborating across borders.
The six world premiere plays capture a cross-section of the Kenyan theater scene, and examine the liminal space between ancestry and civilization, the real and the surreal, the inner being, and our external existence, asking questions such as how we show up bare and vulnerable in these unusual times whilst carrying the energy of the other within us.
Associate Producing Director of the Nairobi Musical Theatre Initiative and Creative Producer for Theatre for One Nairobi Edition Karishma Bhagani added: “It is an honour to help bring the Nairobi edition of Theatre for One to life. Having been born and raised in Mombasa, Kenya, and as a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, I have always had a keen interest in expanding performance opportunities and the arts sector within East Africa. To do this in conjunction with NYUAD is a dream opportunity that draws together these varied influences. Theatre For One elevates a vibrant chorus of voices that are deeply resonant nationally and internationally, and creates deeply personal works that resonate in this shared moment.”
Artistic Director at Theatre for One Christine Jones said: “Although the idea for Theatre for One was conceived way before the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of building a bond through the experience of a unique digital performance has resonated deeply with audiences in the US and Middle East. This season, it has been very gratifying to take these very intimate connections and then share them across continents and cultures. To engage with amazingly talented performers, writers, and directors in Nairobi, as well as the team at The Arts Center, has been a privilege and a joy. The result is theater for one, made by many, and seen by more.”
Theatre For One: We are Here comprises six commissioned world premiere plays, each less than ten minutes in length. For each ticket booked, an audience member will be invited to experience one of the following performances, selected at random:
- The Interview: written and performed by Aleya Kassam; directed by Esther Kamba; mentored by Kholoud/SRĐA
- The Living Ghost: written and performed by Mercy Mutisya; directed by Kholoud Sawaf; associate director, Nyokabi Macharia
- Aging: written and performed by Laura Ekumbo; directed by SRĐA; associate director, Esther Kamba
- The Beanie: written and performed by Mūmbi Kaigwa (documentary theater); directed by: SRĐA; associate director, Nyokabi Macharia
- Killer Cop Lives Fast Life: written and performed by Sitawa Namwalie; directed by Kholoud Sawaf; associate director, Esther Kamba
- Cucu: written and performed by Anne Moraa; directed by Nyokabi Macharia, mentored by Kholoud Sawaf/SRĐA
Theatre for One was created in 2010 by Christine Jones, a Tony and Olivier Award-winning set designer, and adjunct faculty member at NYU Tisch. Originally staged in a mobile theater booth and performed in public spaces, the digital booth developed for these performances mimics that same process, using a custom designed device that allows actors, who are performing from their homes, to maintain eye contact with the audience member.
The innovative live digital theatrical experience, which has enjoyed critically acclaimed runs in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Chicago, results in uniquely personal works that bring a much-needed intimacy to one-on-one online performance.
Due to mature content, this show is recommended for audiences aged 18 years and older. The content ranges from PG to R rating, based on language and references to sexual violence and domestic abuse. The specific play to be watched is determined by chance.
Theatre For One: We are Here will take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, September 15-26 from 8-9:30pm in Abu Dhabi, 7-8:30pm in Nairobi, and 12-1:30pm in New York. Tickets are free but space is limited and online registration is required. For details, visit The Arts Center website.