Talking about theatre at Bat Valley or Labonita is of course very different from what will get you talking at say, Afroman Spice’s What’s Your Secret?, Lantern Meet’s What Shall We Name This Child?, Deborah Assimwe’s Will Smith Lookalike or Peter Kagayi’s The Audience Must say Amen that have all shown at the National Theatre.
Much as the two types of drama are all theatre creations, they tend to differ in many ways, for instance, some tend to be precise, stick to the book and overly minimalistic, yet the ones you will find at Bat Valley tend to be over the top with the set, casting and yes can last a whooping four hours.
That was the story of Afri-Talent’s Sebalamu Tebesigwa that has been showing at Bat Valley Theatre for two weeks. The production is a classic thought to have been one of the most loved pieces the group put up together.
Then, they were showing it at a time theatre was dully dominated by the Bakayimbira Dramactors thus it’s clear to say that the popularity Sebalamu Tebesigwa surged, contributed to making Afri-Talent the dominant drama group we have today.
Sebalamu Tebesigwa is basic production, singing, drama, running around and suspense – But what may have made this production a hit when it was released then, could have been the marriage of drama with comedy – a very big shift from the Bakayimbira who had mastered the art of tragedy as a drama form.
With Sebalamu Tebesigwa, the then Afri-Talent, with minds like John Segawa, Mariam Ndagire, Abby Mukibi, Jennifer Kabanda and Ruth Kalibala among others seemed to shamelessly tear the book of rules by doing a drama without a type or a point of view.
It a kind of show where standup comedy, meets skits, music, erotica and tragedy all rolled in one – it could be the reason why the audiences keep coming back.
But as you could imagine, having all these forms of theater happening concurrently steals a thing away from almost each art form; In Sebalamu Tebesigwa, the script could have suffered as there was a lot of improvising as actors seemed to veer off a bit, but since this is a production they’ve invested time in, they quickly found their way around.
After all the years, with some members of the cast reclaiming their original roles, the production proved to be a cracker, the punchlines were on point and music was minimal, the plot suffered most of the times but maybe it wasn’t a big deal, the audience was entertained.
Sebalamu Tebesigwa is set around a law firm where workers are treated poorly by their boss. Though, that’s not all, it turns out that the boss, Duncan Tebesigwa, portrayed by Segawa has built his empire on deceit – stealing from his guardian living abroad, employees and the community.
When his guardian returns to the country, Tebesigwa kills him and now has one last job to complete – switching his remaining assets to his name.
Staging Sebalamu Tebesigwa is part of the festivities of celebrating twenty years of Bat Valley Theatre, a home of Afri-Talent since they broke out, next week, the group will re-stage yet another classic, Empuuna Malungu.