Blog30

Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

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Mũmbi Kaigwa

Mumbi Kaigwa, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenActor, writer and theatre producer
Nairobi, KENYA

LPTW’s 30th anniversary coincides with my 50th (in April). The received wisdom is that women don’t reveal their age, but in my part of the world, I once read a statistic that said on average, woman here don’t live past 40, so for me, it is something to celebrate. In times gone by, it was also a source of pride to grow older, as you could pass on your wisdom to a younger generation. I try to do this through the work I choose.

Eleven years ago I began on this journey of full-time acting, followed some years later with writing, producing and more recently directing, mostly because I wanted my work to be more relevant to my environment. Even when I produce or perform the published works of others, it’s important to me that my audience can find themselves in the work and that the production asks meaningful questions.

I began to write in 2001, and though I didn’t know it then the question I was interested in showed up in all my plays, which have become a trilogy of musical performances (in the sense that they include live performances of traditional African music), with dance and narration. The three “plays” deal with dreams and what happens when a dream is deferred, and more importantly what happens when you allow your dream to take shape within this lifetime; the fear and the elation.

I’m celebrating my half centenary with a revival of some of my favourites. Beginning in November 2011 with Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, the season includes some Alan Bennett, some short plays from the Humana Festival, some Margaret Edson, some Ntozake Shange. All this is subject to getting the rights, of course. The year will end with the third play in the trilogy mentioned above, They Call Me Wanjikũ, a semi-autobiographical journey.

I join my fellow family members in the LPTW in celebrating 30 years of increased visibility and opportunities for women in theatre. Mubarikiwe (Blessings).

Born in Kenya, Mũmbi Kaigwa began acting at age 10, appearing in school productions and on local television with her uncle. Theatre remained a close companion all through high school and college. In 1999, Mũmbi left her “proper” job with the United Nations to devote her life to performance. http://theartscanvas.com

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Week in Review, April 23 – 29, 2012


LPTW’s Blog30 was created to highlight the diversity, passion and brilliance of the individual members of the League of Professional Theatre Women in celebration of the organization’s 30th Anniversary. Every Sunday, the women featured in the previous six days, as well as three others from our first two months, receive a little more attention, a second chance for readers to learn about them. Sunday is often a day for reflection, offering the opportunity to catch up on the previous week’s activities. Now, the Week in Review gives our readers the opportunity to experience a week’s entries in one easy sitting. We hope you enjoy the latest addition to Blog30.

My best escape is to go walking in the Scottish Highlands – by mountains and loch-sides, wild and remote places of my homeland, with my friend Jenny. – Gerda Stevenson, April 23

Happily, these days, I find myself right in the midst of the theatre that changes my life everyday. – Anne Dunning, April 24

I am obsessed with unicorns (yes I admit I had those pastel and medieval posters all over my room when I was younger). – Natasha Lee Martin, April 25

Someday, when I am an old woman (besides wearing purple), I want to have a sheep farm, so I can card, spin and dye the wool and then knit and weave lots of beautiful things…and have a huge garden and a huge barn and a huge farm table and cook fabulous meals and have my closest friends over for dinner. All of the time. – Lisa Rothe, April 26

I still dream of owning a farm! – DeVida Jenkins, April 27

And in my heart, still a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. They’ll be back; nobody can live in LA forever. – Penny Landau, April 28

From the Archives:
Everyone knows me, because I’m an open book. – Mari Lyn Henry, January 23

The theater, after all, is about humanity, and all of us have it. – Cindy Cooper, January 31

The received wisdom is that women don’t reveal their age, but in my part of the world, I once read a statistic that said on average, woman here don’t live past 40, so for me, it is something to celebrate. – Mumbi Kaigwa, February 6

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