Thursday 23rd February 2023 was arguably the most important day for Kenya’s theatre scene this year. Though just in its second year since launch in 2022, the Kenya Theatre Awards, curated by the team from the Kenya International Theatre Festival (KiTFEST) did an amazing job. The annual award event was held at the Kenya Cultural Centre in Nairobi.
Graced by both the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary from the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, the evening saw the best in Kenya’s theatre stage, recognized. One key highlight of the night was an additional Ksh 100,000 for each of the winners from the Ministry’s kitty. This promise was delivered by the CS Hon. Ababu himself, who also took the time to assure the creative industry in Kenya of good things in the pipeline, such as Talanta Hela and a big Talent Awards plan for both sports and the arts.
Prof. Ngugi wa Thiongo's Ngahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I want) and Mekatilili wa Menza by Woodcreek were the key highlights of the evening.
The Kenya Theatre Awards are meant to honour outstanding productions, artists and the legacy of practitioners who have become icons while encouraging and celebrating a blend of innovation and excellence in theatrical productions. By its structure and way of operations, the awards document and provide data and statistics of live stage theatrical performances held in Kenya in a given year with details of the venues, the number of performances, Kenyans attending performances and where possible, the revenue generated from theatrical activities.
KTA annually considers the following disciplines: drama or plays, comedy, farce (including productions of set works for schools), one-person or solo performance shows, musical theatre (including Musical Revue), dance theatre, physical theatre and ballet opera, tertiary student and incubator theatre as well as spoken word poetry performances.
Below is the full list of 2023 Winners.
Best Adaptation-The Manic Monologues
Best Breakthrough Female Performer-Nyokabi Macharia
Best Breakthrough Male Performer-Dadson Gakenga
Best Children’s Play-Kesho Amahoro Youth Theatre Kenya
Best Costume Design-Christina Baya and Philine Olesi (Mekatilili wa Menza)
Best Dance Theatre Circus-Mother Nature (Sarakasi Trust)
Best Director-Stuart Nash (I Will Marry When I Want/Ngahiika Ndeenda)
Best Female Performance in a Solo Production-Dr. Zippy Okoth (Side Chic Wife)
Best Kikwetu Production (Vernacular Shows)-Ngahiika Ndeenda (Nairobi Performing Arts Studio)
Best Lighting Design-Alacoque Ntome (Mekatilili wa Menza)
Best Male Performance in a Solo Production-Martin Kigondu (Supernova)
Best Musical Score, Arrangement or Adaptation-Noah Akintade (I Will Marry When I Want/Ngahiika Ndeenda)
Best Musical Theatre Production-Mekatilili wa Menza (Woodcreek School)
Best Original Choreography in a Musical/Play-Sam Njenga Githongo (Mekatilili wa Menza)
Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Play)-Clare Wahome (The Dying Need No Shoes)
Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Monologue-Wakio Mzenge (The Manic Mologues)
Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Play)- Nixsha Shah (Speak Their Names)
Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Play)-Bilal Mwaura (I Will Marry When I Want/Ngahiika Ndeenda)
Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Monologue-Charles J Ouda (The Manic Monologues)
Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Play)- Cyprian Osoro (Coast of Living)
Best Playwright - Original Script-Martin Kigondu (Supernova)
Best Producer-Stuart Nash (I Will Marry When I Want/Ngahiika Ndeenda)
Best Production-Nairobi Performing Arts Studio
Best Set Design-Lewis Kavoi Xavier and Jairo Obege (Mekatilili wa Menza)
Best Sound Design-Ambrose Kimani (Supernova)
Best Spoken Word Production-Mufasa For President (Mufasa Poet)
Best Stage Managed Production-Mercy Wangui (I Will Marry When I Want/Ngahiika Ndeenda)
Best Stand Up Comedy Production-Manmade Woman (Astar Productions)
Best Story-telling Production-Something Must Kill A Man (Cmg Poshmedia)
Best Two-hander Production-Shorts From Africa
Best University/College Theatre Group-Kenyatta University
Theatre Company of the Year-Heartsrings Entertainment
Jury's Special Award-Dance Into Space