(Photo by Sulton Somjee, courtesy of George Kabonyi; Photo by Cupers & Kitata; Image by African Digital Heritage)
Together with community stakeholder and institutional partners, we are currently developing a collaborative project to reimagine the open-air theatre and reactivate performance arts in Kamĩrĩĩthũ. Our research and filming has led to an increased awareness of the importance of this erased and demolished heritage amongst a range of stakeholders, and is now instigating efforts to create a community-based organization in Kamĩrĩĩthũ. Based in collaboration with these stakeholders, our project may include a combination of fragmentary reconstruction of the original theatre, a space to memorialize struggles for social and environmental justice, and the programming of new performances and events in Kamĩrĩĩthũ.
Our starting point for this project is to recognize the capacity of collectives as both history-makers and future-makers. We aim to engage these capacities to build a project that activates the past as a way to chart a more just future. Following this ethos, our project will be guided by a participatory process to support the community to develop the appropriate strategies for honoring the heritage of the Kamĩrĩĩthũ open-air theatre on its original site. We understand community participation as emerging through dialogue and exchange of knowledge and experience amongst diverse actors—across generations and lines of class, gender, and race. This process will form the basis to reactivate the site. Mobilizing the digital reconstruction of the theatre in conjunction with new design practices will help us develop a range of potential scenarios. This open-ended, creative process will be crucial for the project to be sustainable over the long term.