shutterstock_90625120Wednesday night was a very dark day for theatre arts at Kenyatta University, both literally and metaphorically.

Two plays were being staged at the campus’ Cinema Hall and Harambee hall, but the students seemed indifferent. The famous theatre group, Triple E productions, staged a hilarious play “Mama Nani Nipe”, while their rival Talent House Productions (THP) marked the university’s AIDS’ week by staging performances to sensitise students. Triple E charged a modest Sh. 100 for tickets. On the other side, THP’s play was absolutely free of charge. One eerie similarity between the two plays is that they took place in destitute audience-bereft halls.

Kenyatta University is acclaimed for its role in the country as a theatre and comedic powerhouse. The institution has produced Kenya’s finest in thespian circles, and its alumni have made milestones in shaping Kenya’s arts industry.

One of the institution’s finest is Daniel “Churchill” Ndambuki, host of Kenya’s most watched TV show Churchill Show. Churchill was a member of the Kenyatta University Travelling Theatre (KUTT). Together with the likes of John Kiarie and Nyambane, this group went ahead to not only rock KU, but also found Kenya’s classic show, Redykulas. Churchill Show’s star comedians, MC Sleepy and Owago, are currently students at KU.

And it seems like the halcyon days have not been elusive for long. Just a year ago, Triple E plays used to premier in halls packed with hundreds of students. What has changed so drastically? “Students no longer appreciate theatre as they did a while back. Nowadays, it feels like nobody gives a damn,” Neema, an actor with Triple E, revealed to us.

“This trend is really worrying. If nothing is done to arrest it, then KU will lose its position as the country’s leading institution in performing arts,” Complained Allan ‘Shaker’ Wanekeya, THP’s lead actor.