By Alex Balimwikungu
Renowned playwright and founder of Theatre Factory, Phillip Luswata has blasted the Uganda National Cultural Centre (National Theatre) for banning political gatherings at the facility.
Luswata who once branded National Theatre management a JOKE for turning the facility into a business hub while arresting some stakeholders for trespass when they aired out the anomaly is spitting fire again. He thinks banning the political gatherings is an overzealous mistake. In a note to the Arts fraternity, he wrote thus:
The notice in the picture has hang around the National Theatre for the past two weeks. Thought it was an overzealous mistake and didn’t think much of it. But it is still there!
Are we now into CENSURSHIP even when we have the big to task to grow what to appreciate? (Active theatrical/dramatic dialogues and expressions).
What is culture if not participating in society? And what is participating in society if not being political? As a participant in the demographic the UNCC takes charge of (artistes) my core duty-I stand to be alternatively educated, is to comment on, prob, prod,examine alternatives, offer prescriptions, magnify deviations, etc. towards guaranteeing a society that understands and accepts responsibility for its choices. I am, therefore, a political being in my offering of leadership to society in this way.
The National Theatre exists as a space for Ugandans willing to be so exposed to gather and so relate. It stands as a temple for the creative summation of all our views. Is it, therefore, creative for management to so publicly stop such interactions to occur? Does it, therefore, mean that such great political discussions as SONG OF WANKOKO, AMAYIRIKITI, THIRTY YEARS OF BANANAS, ORDER-KIRAGILO, that so informed Ugandan expression and direction during the ‘good days’ of theatre are now nothing to be ever dreamed of?
Should we now resign ourselves to non-political sketch and stand up comedies-with simplistic themes on sex, tribes, relationships and deformities- that rather than excite Ugandans to participate in the patriotism and growth of their country pushes them towards being uncritical, simplistic and noncommittal to actions around them and even their own decisions? Is this the priority communication from UNCC to the arts? Is this where we need to be?