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Theatre remains Botswana’s success story

Publishing Date : 10 September, 2018

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Botswana is internationally acclaimed for setting trends in the track and fields and beauty pageantry, a record long set by the likes of the celebrated Mpule Kwelagobe and Glody Dube and later asserted by the likes of Amantle Montsho, Nigel Amos and Isaac Makwala to name just a few. However with the evolution of the creative industry, local acts continue to grow in leaps and bounds and have now graced the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, New York City— writes staffer DAVE BAAITSE.


It looks like Batswana have now found a niche in telling their social stories through theatre. To date, the emergency of local groups such as Mophato Dance Theatre, Ntwakgolo, Kgotla the Meeting Place, I Love Botswana Ensemble and others have taken centre stage and have now surpassed traditional music. With the new kid on the block, Botswana Ensemble recently making it to Broadway, the now joining the multi- award- winning classically trained actor, Donald Molosi who made his maiden Broadway appearance a few years back.


A few weeks back on a landmark achievement, the now famous I Love Botswana Ensemble under the direction of Andrew Kola performed at Broadway at a multi- billion dollar network of the largest theatres in the world. This was history in the making when this national project performed their production PULA at Times Square New York.


This masterpiece project envisioned by a young Motswana Andrew Kola is crafted in a bid to give the ensemble significant international exposure and a demonstration that dance in Botswana can compete with the best of the best, thus the dream to stage on Broadway was born.
 The chronicles of having Botswana on Broadway further diversified awareness of Botswana’s tourism product to complement the existing messaging of wildlife tourism.


To further show their competence at the international stage the much celebrated ensemble also performed at the world renowned Battery Dance Festival, as well as a special performance in Washington early this year. The I Love Botswana Ensemble Andrew Kola’s dream is to travel the world and tell the story of Pula which is their play. Pula, or rain, is highly cherished in Botswana, a semi- arid country in Africa. This fictional play- anchored on the practical and mystical relationship that Batswana have with rain- traces how rain brings humans, plants and animals under one Botswana sky.


Another Motswana to have graced Broadway is Donald Molosi. In 2014, Molosi was the only actor from Africa to have been selected for his play to premier in New York City as part of the United Solo Festival, the world’s biggest solo- theatre festival, he was quoted in one of the local newspapers saying;  “I work extremely hard to contribute to the prosperity of my country, in and outside our borders, so I am proud that our Botswana flag will be among those that will proudly fly in New York’s Theatre District when I take to the Broadway stages next month”.


Molosi is one of the most prominent African actors of his generation. He is an official Ambassador for Brand Botswana and is the youngest- ever recipient of the Khama Brilliant Spirit Award (2003), a prestigious Presidential award, for his contribution to the arts in Botswana. In that capacity he has had the privilege of being invited to perform his political one- man plays in front of many dignitaries including Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton.


Donald Molosi has, in the past, both performed and presented scholarly findings concerning the arts and national memory at the UN General Assembly (2002) and the UN World Youth Conference (2012). For the past 11 years, Molosi has worked closely with the UN and the African Union as a spokesperson for the performance- based popularization of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the African Charter on Children's Rights and Responsibilities, respectively. Molosi earned his BA in Political Economy and Theater from Williams College in Massachusetts.


In 2015 alone, Molosi successfully headlined three major festivals throughout the continent: Maitisong Festival in Botswana, Writivism in Uganda and Storymoja in Kenya. He went on a critically- acclaimed international performance tour that ended in Belgium in 2014. For his writings, in 2015 alone he was shortlisted for the Short Story Day Africa award; he won the Bessie Head Literature Award and he was honored off- Broadway.    


As its name suggest, Broadway is a wide street in New York City that runs the full length of Manhattan, from its southern tip at bowling green to its northern tip at Inwood and even on into the Bronx. It’s the oldest north- South Street in New York City, existing as a Native American path since before the city was first settled and called New Amsterdam.


Even though there are many famous sites along the several miles of Broadway, one small stretch comes to mind when most people hear the word “Broadway”. It is the part of Broadway between 42nd and 53rd streets- including Times Square- that is considered the home of the American Theatre industry. This famous section of Broadway is known as the Theatre District. You will often hear it called ‘The Great White Way’. This nickname came about because Broadway was one of the first streets in the United States to be lit with electric lights. 

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