The Ten Commandments – the timeless story of struggle and salvation – will soon be showing in theatres in Kigali. The original French musical will be translated, directed, and produced in Rwanda courtesy of Anastia Uglovia, a Russian arts enthusiast who is currently based in Kigali. Joseph Oindo spoke to her about the musical and more...
Who is Anastasia Uglova?
I was born in Moscow, Russia, but I lived in the United States since I was nine. I worked at NBC-Universal in New York City (an American media and entertainment company engaged in the production and marketing of entertainment, news and information products and services to a global customer base), managing various projects related to digital news. In 2012 I was in charge of the 2012 London Olympics effort on the digital side. After the Olympics I boarded an Africa-bound plane and arrived in Rwanda courtesy of Global Health Corps.
I realised that Rwanda has some shared history with Russia – both countries have rich and sad histories. It was easy for me to relate Rwanda with my childhood experiences in Russia. After working in the media in New York for years, I decided that it was time now for me to do something different, and that’s how I ended up in Rwanda.
Tell us about The Ten Commandments…
The Ten Commandments is not just about the biblical tale of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. It’s a tragic and uplifting story of dignity and human suffering, duty and salvation among other virtues. It also cuts across cultures and religions. It’s one of the most fundamental themes in our shared human history, and eminently relatable in any context, be it in Europe or Africa.
The play is a French musical (Les Dix Commandements in French) written by Pascal Obispo in 2,000. It has Italian and Spanish versions and I want to do the English version here in Rwanda.
Is this a faith-based project?
What I love so much about Pascal Obispo’s play is that he focused primarily on the humanistic aspects of this classic Biblical tale – courage, human dignity, social justice, liberty and the rule of law – while the Bible story was a vehicle to deliver these central themes to the audience. This is a show that appeals to different fans – those who come to see a dramatisation of one of the greatest Biblical tales, those who want to be inspired by an epic in which right triumphs over wrong, and those who want to relish the gorgeous music and the energy of live theatre. This is an attempt to bring a beautiful story with an important message of love and redemption to a city starved of the arts.
When should we expect the play to premiere?
I am still fundraising for the project. My target was $5,000 and I am so happy with the response so far. I have managed to raise 50 per cent of this amount from both local and international sponsors who are happy with this project. I expect The Ten Commandments to hit Rwandan theatres in December because this is the month when Christians all over the world come together and passionately share their experiences.
Tell us about your cast…
Since this is a Rwandan project, I will choose my actors from the people of Rwanda themselves. I will have to recruit about 10 principal actors who are going to play lead roles like Moses. But there are opportunities for additional supporting roles as well. We shall conduct auditions from which the best will be selected. We shall inform the public through adverts in local media when that time comes.
What are the challenges you expect to face?
I know Kigali has not experienced something like this before but this musical is my baby and I am determined to walk through fire to see it finally staged in English.
I’m closer than I’ve ever been before. I’ve given myself ample time to conduct auditions, commission sets and costumes, and rehearse for the show.
I’ll need to find the right talent to pull it off, which may or may not be in abundance here. But I’m optimistic because if there’s anything I am sure Rwandans are adept in, it’s song and dance.