Goodbye Burn My Hearters!
The Burn My Heart stage tour is over and I feel a little sad. Tonight Lydia Gitachu - who played Mugo alongside Lowri James as Mathew (above) - is on her way back to Nairobi. For six weeks, five actors and their stage manager have been 'on the road', bringing 1950s Kenya alive in theatres up and down the country. They were a fine 'multiroling' cast and got some great reviews. Anoushka Athique's very imaginative design and Juwon Ogungbe's haunting music also helped to lure audiences back in time. Magic to watch!
I was very touched when a Kenyan acquaintance told me that her teenage daughter, born in England, wanted to see the show twice. I took part in a couple of post-show discussions where Lydia spoke of her own family background. Her grandmother used to help Mau Mau fighters by taking them food in the forest while her grand-dad was a Homeguard, seen as loyal to the British and the settlers. However, he knew what his wife was doing and he too would sometimes secretly assist the Mau Mau when required. In Burn My Heart, both Mugo and Mathew are forced to make choices with huge consequences. In war there is often no 'in between'.
Well, thank you Trestle Theatre and Blindeye for bringing BMH alive and I look forward to the play being revived in the future. Meanwhile, the book lives on - moving from print onto the personal stage in each reader's mind. A week ago it received the Children's Africana Book Award (an Honor Book for Older Readers) in Washington. For more see http://www.africaaccessreview.org/aar/awards.html And to the wonderful Burn My Heart actors - Lydia Gitachu, Lowri James, Christian Dixon, Gehane Strehler and Sam Parks - go well and may our paths cross again!