John Wasonga

Kenya - Theatre & Writing

John Wasonga

John Wasonga

  • AGE : 38
  • COUNTRY of residence : KENYA
JPEG - 166.3 ko

The artist

A few words about your artistic journey

I began as an amateur actor in a community theatre group in Mombasa. A series of theatre trainings sparked an interest in me to become a full time theatre practitioner. Over the years I have garnered experience as an actor, radio voice artist, theatre trainer and now a theatre director.

How long have you been an artist ?

I have been an artist for 19 years. 14 years a performing artist and trainer, 5 years as a director.

Why did you apply for this grant ? How will the grant support you ?

Since Covid-19 began, I have tried to work on my theatre projects in vain, balancing the meagre resources available has not yielded fruits.
My planned shows were cancelled leading to loss in revenue.
This grant will cushion me financially to research and create work without worrying about my next meal.

What are your concrete artistic objectives after this residency ?

1. To demonstrate how fusing poetry, music dance ,drama can be used to amplify the voices of the voiceless(children).
2. To explore how theatre can be digitized through audio podcasts.

His residency

What did you achieve during this creative residency ? What is the result (created work) ? Who was involved in the creation process ?

During the ‘Creativity is Life Residency’, I managed to create a Podcast titled : MY DAD IS A LIAR. I was able to create 4 episodes. I intend to create more stories for the podcast beyond the residency period. This podcast is a compilation of children’s stories about the lies that their parents and guardians tell them. The parents who have spent considerable time with the children due to the Covid pandemic get to learn that their lies have been discovered and how their children feel about these lies.

The goal of the Podcast is to remind parents the need to help to create a better tomorrow for their children by telling the truth and being honest. I researched and recorded the stories from real life happenings. I then recreated and scripted thel for this podcast.

How do you think these activities contribute to a reflection on today’s world, in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, and/or on the shaping of the future ?

The key reflection in this project, “My Dad is a Liar”, is that children express themselves in different ways. During this Pandemic, most families have had to come to terms with realities that were hidden. People have spent so much time together ; mothers have spent time with their children ; fathers have been for the first time a common sight around many homes. This has led to more learnings and reflections by the parents on what their children are capable of, especially when it comes to uncovering information hidden from them.

This Podcast is a reminder and a wak-up call to parents to be honest to their young ones if they expect a brighter future for them. This podcast seeks to raise a generation of honest people by advocating for parents and guardians to be honest so that children can emulate honesty as a virtue.

How did you feel during the residency ? And at the end of it ?

I had a cocktail of feelings during the residency. Our way of working has been distrupted and I felt like I was learning the ropes afresh. I felt caged especially during the research stage. I would have preferred to meet people in person, but it wasn’t possible due to restrictions on movement and very few friends would have been comfortable with a physical meeting.

Working from home was a challenge though it was also a wonderful opportunity of being close to my wife and children and getting inspiration from them. My son was born during my residency, which added to the joy of the work.

Most recording studios in Mombasa were closed due to the effects of the pandemic and the few available ones were too expensive. Nevertheless I was able to record my work in a home studio of one producer who had moved his studio to his living room.