“Under the sea a matatu can be free – to be a money-making machine,” sings Rasta Driver in StoryHippo’s first children’s musical, The Matatu from Watamu that Drove into the Sea. This intriguing business idea provides a great opportunity for talented actors and kids to play around with jokes about Kenyan culture and a colourful array of singing, dancing aquatic characters.
When Rasta Driver decides that “we can’t have fish swimming for free when they can ride in a ma-three”, he hires the spooky, robotic-faced Octopus Tout to “shout at them and shove them in”. It is your typical Kenyan matatu, complete with pirated DVDs of the Kleptomaniacs and a complete disregard for speed limits. Children’s eyes follow the silver octopus around the auditorium, giggling madly when he is sprayed with foam by an irate passenger, a clam. Meanwhile, the KWS marine park warden struggles to restore sanity to the ocean and remind everyone of the importance of conserving our national heritage.
The play was staged at the Sarakasi Dome on the 14th and 15th of May. It was directed by Keith Pearson of The Theatre Company, with choreography by Amimo Olembo and a catchy soundtrack by David Ohingo and Sakata Media. The play is written by Muthoni Muchemi. But the real stars of the show are the children from the Pangani-Ngara area of Nairobi who make the stage swim with movement and colour. They included a red break-dancing crab, three shimmering golden Angel Fish and a gangster-style black puffer fish, complete with shell necklaces and dark glasses. The kids, who otherwise might not have had the chance take part in such a performance, clearly learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
This show teaches kids and adults about the fascinating and varied creatures in the Indian Ocean in a way that is fun, funny and entertaining. Once kids know all about the richness of our seas, they will have a greater interest in conserving this rich but endangered heritage.
The Matatu from Watamu that Drove into the Sea will be published by Storyhippo in August with a sing-along CD. Storyhippo is the children’s books imprint of Storymoja. Further performances are planned for late 2010.
“It was a great play. I liked the young cast,” Catherine Butaki.
“I want to see every show,” Imani Migiro, age 6.
Written by Katy Migiro.
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