When a legendary playwright and actor like Alex Mukulu says that he hasn’t yet seeded a legacy that satisfies his being yet his plays and approach to theater have been rooted within the education train in several institutions of arts in the country. Then rest not you whose thoughts were leaning towards retiring because Mukulu believes his legacy will only yield when, “ this generation recognises the achievements of their parents, respect and work hard for their aspirations and solutions to their challenges.”
Sounds simple isn’t it? Follow on into the life of a character who believes he is a social commentator and Uganda will forever be grateful by a talent such as Alex Mukulu. His technique in exploiting the drama arts is a magnet that pulled his character on stage to not only act but also create acts for those whose exuberance in plays and theater productions could relay the fictional mind of a legend.
His description persay of a commentator’s understanding of society distinctively drives him back to one of his greatest theater lessons that’ll turn even an ordinary mind into active play.
“ … if you want to comment on a river, you either get out of it, watch it move and comment on it or swim with it and go down with it…but for me I am not going to sit, watch and comment on it or go with it; but I’ll be going upwards to look, to find where it comes from in order for me to enjoy the perfect water…..so if that means am a perfectionist then that’s it but what I look for is perfectwater”Mukulu summarised his outlook on his works.
Alex Mukulu is a playwright recorded in the 1970s to date as one of the most popular actor and director whose artistic impression in plays then like Muzukulu wa Kabangala, 30 years of Bananas, Excuse me Mzungu, Dance with Poverty (Amazina g’omwavu) and his undeniably impeccable rendition of the performance of the contemporary traditional ultra choreography at the opening of the ceremony of 2007 CHOGM in Uganda among other productions.
“…there were productions I did or which at the end of the day seemed to be pacesetting and the University comes and says, we need to study your approach to Theater…and you also have this national recognition of governments that have been here and some international recognition…” Mukulu explains that all that might make one think that their contribuion to theater is enough but he personally isn’t yet satisfied and believes he hasn’t yet done enough to influence people to change their mindset.”
Mukulu relays that the DNA of Uganda’s theater is firstly rooted from the understanding of theater as a building for instance the national theater—in terms of a building and also the productions of the plays, “but we were also taught in school that we’d a theater of our own by the fire side…elders would seat around the fire and tell stories of our history and sometimes they would act out those stories depending on the storyteller…”.
In his eyes; the theater brought to us by the colonialists has a box office at which people make payment to watch the drama which the fire place theater didn’t have and to this the colonialists deemed it not a theater.
It should, however, be noted that, “…theater is about drama; it’s like a building or a church where they say, church is not a building but the people make the church. So theater is not the building, it is the people…theater is about drama. Drama is about conflict, without conflict you can’t have drama and without drama, you can’t have theater”.
The acclaimed playwright says that as much as he is neither a person of conflict nor drama, his comprehension of the arts has been through a calling embedded in his insight. Derived from the societal competences in individuals which he submits are characteristic of; Education, Insight, Inspiration, Vision and Intuition. He adds that it is unfortunate that today society only believes only education and forgets that some people don’t need education because they might have any of one of the other four skills but though ill-fated it is that they aren’t professionalised like education.
His perspective on the changing faces of Uganda’s theater over the years centres on the birth of creative economists that have replaced playwrights, actors, actresses or cherographers because the former discovered that there is money in the industry unlike before when it was labelled “Musiru ddala ddala”which may loosely means an industry for the illeterate.
He says, “ the temperature in society today is higher than the imaginary stories we can offer. If you’re to do Romeo and Juliet today in Uganda, you’ll never get anything because people are on heat….yet in Norway where people are in self-actualisation period, it works. You can do any imaginary story and they’ll appreciate. Here you’ve to work harder in order to be above the temperature of the society and to do that you’ve to bring what I call, the protest theater”.
Alex Mukulu’s protest theater is a phenomenon which he believes this generation must adopt to disprove the pornography and obscenity on television, “we’ve to rebuttal everything with stronger values…it takes time to prepare something substantial, tangible, relevant, rational to last….and respected not just popularity…”.
While many factors have been disablers towards the declining numbers of theater goers today to which the comedy era takes part; Mukulu strikes at comedy as a degeneration for lazy people, “who can’t rehearse, who can’t work, who have nothing to say. They read the newspaper and get what to say from there. If the newspapers don’t come out, those people won’t have anything to say…but where will they work after…all creative economists…”.
For a man who says that he became a victim of his own talent to which he couldn’t control; Mukulu’s projections on society’s reflections like politics in drama is that theater is a changer of society to which people go and must come out stronger, more powerful, uncowardly and those that can’t portray politics are just cowards for strong people do tragedies.