Shekinah Drama Team has cemented its position on Rwanda’s gospel music scene and are not about to slow down. The outfit will be performing its new play dubbed Quest to the cure at Kigali Genocide Memorial on April 29 as part of the ongoing 24th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The New Times’ Desire Muhozi caught up with Yannick Kamanzi, the coordinator of the team, to tell us how the group came together and the details of its latest production piece. Excerpts:
What is the team’s background?
We are a team of about 45 entertainers; dancers, singers and theatre performers. The team was formed in 2005 at Restoration Church of Kimisagara, with the aim to influence society in a positive way through theater and musical performances.
By then, all members were still young and in primary school, and I was the youngest of all. I was nine years old.
In December 2015, we were trained by Iriba Centre, a multimedia heritage centre, and during this training, we learnt a lot about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
What is Quest to the Cure about?
Quest to the Cure talks about how we see life after the horrific history of our country. How we know our history in different perspectives due to our backgrounds; some of us come from families of Genocide survivors, others from families of the perpetrators, some children were born as a result of rape during the Genocide, and others were not in the country by the time the Genocide happened.
Those who were in exile returned with a lot of questions. That way, we decided to create a play that talks about what we know as the post-Genocide generation, the challenges we meet, how we understand unity and reconciliation, and what genocide ideology means.
Basically, Quest to the Cure is telling Rwanda’s history through the eyes of a post-Genocide generation.
How impactful has your work been 13 years since you formed the group?
We get feedback from people about our performances. Young people tell us that we help them establish their identity as Rwandans, and adults applaud us for telling the history of our country to their children through performances.
It is an initiative that we started, not knowing how impactful it would be. Today, we receive testimonies of change in people’s lives.
Do you charge for your performances? Where do you perform?
No. We don’t charge. All our performances are free because we work for God. There are different venues for different days. For example, on April 15, we performed at ERC Kimisagara, on April 22, we performed at Kigali City Tower and on April 29 we will stage our show at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi from 5pm.
How does Quest to the Cure reflect on the current social issues?
The play displays how politics and society generally approach the Genocide, unity and reconciliation and the fight against genocide ideology.
Who are your main facilitators?
Most of our performances are being facilitated by Land of a Thousand Arts, Le Journal, National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, National Commission for the fight against Genocide, Doyelcy Group and Aegis Trust.
What current theatrical trends is the team following?
We are contemporary artists. So we are mostly influenced by living and physical theatre, dance, poetry reading, acting and singing.