Creative Entrepreneurship 2014 Class IV Profiles: Anne Manyara

theatre critic image CE

Anne's personal photo CE

Name: Anne Manyara

Occupation: Writer, Theatre Critic, Aspiring Dramaturge

Location: Nairobi


Creative Enterprise Bio
Anne Manyara is a writer, a theatre critic and practitioner and a member of the International Association of Theatre Critics. She studied Theatre and Performing Arts at the University of Paris III- Sorbonne Nouvelle, France and Coventry University, England. She also holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Cardiff University, Wales. Anne has been passionate about Drama since the age of 16, being awarded the Stella Awinja Trophy for Best Female Performing Artist in Kenya in 1990 and 1991. She currently writes for the regional Newspaper, The East African. With the writing of her first creative piece in over twenty years, a ten minute play, Miss Brown, Anne now hopes to expand her sphere, and indeed serve the Performing Arts industry more effectively, by combining her scholarship, critical mind and creative spirit, in the dynamic field of dramaturgy.

Creative Life Cycle

I am at a very exciting turning point in my life.

Since childhood, I was always torn between art and science- creativity on one hand and understanding how things work, on the other. Up to the first semester of my first university, Moi University, I was destined for a scientific career- Engineering. I was always creative but I believed that creative pursuits were something done on the side- almost clandestinely.

Fortunately, in the zeal and optimism of youth, I quit Moi University after one semester and left for Europe, where I eventually started my undergraduate studies in Performing Arts in France. This, however, did not get my creative juices flowing, because instead, my scientific mind reigned as I was immersed in History and Aesthetics and Analysis and Synthesis of text, performance and almost anything analysable within a text, including psycho-analysis of characters in a play. But it was not in vain- it gave me a broader perspective on the question of cultural identity- a topic that has held my interest ever since I read Achebe’s Things Fall Apart in high school- and a topic that I believe is the premise of my life’s mission.

After a seven-year detour in Britain, during which I completed my undergraduate studies and briefly indulged in some creativity while teaching drama there, I returned to Kenya where I have been in the process of establishing myself as a theatre critic.

But this was not entirely fulfilling due to the restlessness of my suppressed creative self and so towards the end of last year, I participated in a play-writing workshop for women organised by The Theatre Company, during which I wrote a ten-minute play Miss Brown– inspired by my fascination with our colonial history and its impact on our cultural and aesthetic values- that is due to be performed in this year’s Fire by Ten Festival. Having re-discovered the pleasure of creativity, I tried but in vain to give up my interests in theatre criticism but found that I simply couldn’t- I still love the reading, the analysis, the synthesis, the trying to make sense of where we’ve come from, where we are and what we value and all those things that make criticism so important within the artistic milieu.

It was on the horn of this dilemma that I enrolled on the Creative Entrepreneurship course organised by the Godown Centre, during which ten weeks, the answer came to me as clear as day- I will be a dramaturge. Hence the exciting turning point in my life.

Vision: To be part of a thriving, world-class Performing Arts industry, inspired by wholesome aesthetic and social values.

Mission: My mission is to influence, inspire and promote performing artists, refine the perception of art and cultural identity and promote the appreciation of high culture through publishing and dramaturgy, so as to ultimately raise the standards of performing arts in the region.

Sample Writing: my thoughts on criticism and some reviews–Fan–122-years-later/-/434746/2224002/-/item/0/-/j8x6fbz/-/index.html

12-18 months plan:

In the next six months, while continuing to write for The East African, I intend to upgrade my blog, into a more informative and interactive website. I also hope to spend this time establishing partnerships and possible collaboration with a view to establishing myself as a dramaturge offering my services to theatre companies in Kenya. During this time, I will be on the lookout for scholarships to enable me to study for an MA in Theatre, possibly in England, starting September 2015.


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