‘Generation 25’ (G25) is a youth-led play about life for the generation of Rwandans born right after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
To mark the 25th commemoration of the Genocide, Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company is staging a world premiere of the play on April 12, at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Amphitheater.
This will be followed by a special Kwibuka25 conversation on intergenerational responsibility and learning.
The play is inspired by true events, and describes the role of different generations in building a new and unified legacy for Rwanda, as seen from the perspective of the youthful actors. Collectively, the young voices will question the past, as they assume the responsibility of being guardians of a dark history they were never part of.
Ultimately, the play seeks answers to the question; “why did one million people die in 100 days, in a country they love, with beautiful people and a beautiful culture?” It delves into the perspectives of young people who were born out of rape, in refugee camps, or those who were orphaned during the Genocide.
It also explores the emotional and physical effects of the Genocide, including identity crises and social challenges they face.
Auditions for the play took place from February 5-6, at Mashirika compound in Kimironko, and attracted a record 130 young aspiring actors. Out of these, 30 were selected for a casting residency, from which the best 15 were picked. Their April 12 performance will come after six weeks of intensive rehearsals.
The play will be performed twice in Rwanda, after which it will be staged in New York, in the US. For the April 12 performance, Mashirika is collaborating with artists from Argentina and the UK. Mashirika will again stage the play at this year’s edition of its annual Ubumuntu Arts Festival, happening in July at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Amphitheater.
Hope Azeda, the artistic director of Mashirika described the upcoming production as “a rallying call to global young voices to be authors of their own destiny, because the issues it addresses are not unique to only Rwanda”.
The performance brings together a Rwandan cast, with artists from the UK and Argentina. The collaboration seeks to empower young people to use their skills to promote humanity and peace-building in Rwanda and around the world.
Commenting about the play, Youth Minister Rosemary Mbabazi, emphasised the importance of honoring the memory of Genocide victims, and urged the youth to be at the forefront of positive change.
“It’s important for the youth to put themselves at the center of change. Our country has seen impressive transformation, and each generation of Rwandans has an important and unique role to play in the country’s journey,”
“The involvement of young people in sharing this message is a sign of creativity and humanity. I encourage young Rwandans to attend the performances, and draw lessons that can guide us all on the path to lasting peace and unity,” Mbabazi said.
On her part, Azeda acknowledged the power of art to shape the future.
“This is one of the most important plays we have ever produced. The younger generation has taken the brave step to share real-life experiences in this piece,”
“Our role, as the older generation, is to educate them and encourage everyone to strive for togetherness and understanding. At the G25 performance, you will be at one with the past, present, and future of a resilient nation. This is what our art was made for –healing and building,” she noted
Yannick Kamanzi, a lead actor in the play stressed the invaluable role the youth must play to create the future they want.
“I’m glad to be part of this work. Mashirika has really put young people in the driver’s seat. We have learned the stories of victims and met with survivors who lived through the horrors; each experience is heartbreaking. We were inspired to make a difference,” Kamanzi pointed out.
Entrance to the performance is free.