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BY THE BOOK: Playwright Martin Kigondu

Wednesday October 11 2017

Martin Kigondu is arguably one of Kenya’s

Martin Kigondu is arguably one of Kenya’s finest theatre brains. PHOTO| MBINYA MUTHOKA 

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Martin Kigondu is arguably one of Kenya’s finest theatre brains.

The passionate thespian started his journey at the National Theatre as an actor.

He then went on to work with the Phoenix Players as a stage manager, actor and eventually director.

Martin also worked with The Theatre Company as an actor, playwright and associate director.

He now runs Prevails Arts Company as the producer.

The budding playwright is quite keen about using the arts as a tool for social change with a focus on waste management, leadership and mentorship.

This is his eleventh year in the arts and he intends to venture deeper into theatre production and also hopes to invest more in the arts.

You can catch Martin's play What Happens in the Night at Daystar University this Saturday, October 14, 5pm.

Martin promises that the talented Prevails Arts cast will bring the script to life in a most thrilling experience.

Martin spoke his literary favourites and fantasies.



Which one book do you hold so dear that it can't possibly be lent out? 

Appreciating Drama written by the late Dr Ezekiel Alembi. He signed it and gave it to me on January 2, 2015.

We must have been having lemon tea over a chat as we often did. I held those sessions dear to me and hold the book as dear to me.


 Your favourite childhood book? 

Matilda. My mother happened to be our teacher of English teacher in Class Five and she once read an excerpt from the book in class and I got hooked.

Then came the SecretSeven and FamousFive, often as birthday gifts.

The most memorable was About Boys.

It answered most of my questions about body changes.


 Who is your literary crush? 

 Delia Jarret-Macauley. Not only is she a gifted writer but also a beautiful soul.

What is your greatest fear? 

Not living a meaningful life. And I may not be a Lannister but I fear not being able to pay a debt.

In business, we do a bit of borrowing but I pray that a day comes when I will not have to have such arrangements and will have none and have to take none, Godspeed.

If you were to dine with three writers dead or alive, who would they be and why? 

I love Zukiswa Wanner. Her writing style and personality, I think she reminds me of someone I really like, she'd be great to dine with.

The late Francis Imbuga and Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye would be great to have at a table too, from their eyes and words I would pick the gems, most especially about the craft and Kenya.

Most unforgettable character from a book? 

Mr Pip in Charles Dicken's GreatExpectations and from a play, Odie in John Ruganda's ShredsofTenderness.

Which book do you wish you had written and why? 

Immortality by Milan Kundera. I think to write such a book one would have to be at a really mature place in life and a profound thinker in regards to the arts, spirituality, life and death. I'd like to reach such maturity.


 If you were sent off to Robben island for a year, which three books would you take with you? 

Immortality by Milan Kundera, TheBible and a collection of poems written by my mother, Anastasia Kigondu.


If you weren't a theatre producer / playwright, what would you be? 


I'd probably be a teacher, priest or a rapper. I at times think I'd make a pretty good graphic designer.  


 Any other interesting thing you'd want to tell readers? 


I am passionate about mentoring young men. I am part of a program- MenTaa. It seeks to empower young men into being better versions of themselves. My play 'MatchstickMen' is a bit centred around the same.

 Who are the three actors you look up to and why would you like to meet?

Actually, I'd like to meet quite a number! Top on my list; Sir Anthony Hopkins, Lupita Nyong'o and Chris Rock.

In my dreams - on this perfect day I'd have breakfast with Anthony Hopkins - a master of both the stage and film craft, have lunch with Chris Rock over notes on being as great on each of the artistic elements he engages on and prepare ugali and sukuma wiki (avocado lazima) for Lupita at dinner, we would talk matters showbiz, reminisce about the Phoenix Players and do a read through of one of my plays that she would be set to lead.

Tell us about the play you obsess about?

That would definitely be - AgnesofGod by John Pielmeier.

I watched it years ago and have played and replayed it in my head ever since. It's a philosophical drama that's quite thought provoking.

Themes around religion intellectually stimulate me. I love it. 

What are your thoughts on the Kenyan Theatre scene?

I think it is both hopeful and underrated and I would say it is diverse yet sadly a little common - this works in the favour of different and really well done shows all the same. At Prevail Arts Company we strive to be outstandingly progressive, profound and professional.

What do you think the Government and wananchi can do to promote local Arts - particularly theatre? 

Full houses are an honour to perform to. The least wananchi can do is show up.

If you do go to the theatre once in a while try it more often, if you do not go to the theatre at all why not try it. 

The least the Government can do is take ministries involved in the arts as close to the people as possible by having at least three theatres per county.

It can also recognise our Guilds and Unions and rework the whole Drama Festival program.

Unlike the Schools Music Festival, the Drama one glorifies caricatures on stage and thus the craft is deformed from birth and we wonder why a majority of the stars don't make it on screen.

It can also be managed in a 'cleaner' manner, with less politicking.

 Where do you see yourself in the next five years? 

I see myself working to establish Prevail Arts Academy as our theatre and film arms will by then have found firm ground.

I also see myself staging more work widely within our borders and beyond.

Finally, I see myself happily enjoying family life and reaping sweet entrepreneurial fruits.



For tickets to the play What Happens in the Night, please call: 0738995998/0780832607