Last night the Class of 2016 students at Kenyatta University organized a first ever ART CLOSEDOWN event last night for the Department of Theatre Arts and Film Technology (VTF). VTF 2016 students pulled together to create this event to showcase the work of their peers to the faculty and the students in the school. Before all of the students scattered for a 4-month break they invited everyone to Harambee Hall to share student films made this past year. In addition, there was a short original play written, directed, and acted by Year 2 students, a dance team, a spoken poet, and a comic. It was a huge success.
A special note of appreciation to Tracy Kibue, a true leader in her class, a generous and powerful young woman who possesses passion and leadership skills and a heart of gold. I believe it would be true to say that without her vision and efforts the event last night would have never taken place. Bravo Tracy.
I wish for more such shared events for the Department of Theatre Arts and Film Technology at Kenyatta University (KU). I close my eyes and wish for a strong identity, for a sense of inclusion and cohesion for the Department of Theatre Arts and Film Technology at Kenyatta University. My wish list for the VTF 2016 students that I had the pleasure of working with this semester is sincere, and it has many parts. Close your eyes and wish with me.
– In the arts you are only as strong as those around you. Do not try to go through your program at KU alone. Surround yourself with those who challenge you, who have different strengths, those who will help you produce your best work. Friends are fun. But working only with those who are your friends will not teach you what you need to learn to thrive in your profession. Dare to fail together and learn from those who challenge you. Make lots of work. Have fun. Don’t wait for someone else to ask you to share your work. Look at the student in the desk next to you and behind you and say ‘what can we start making today.’ I wish for unity.
– A professional does what they say they will do. Never, ever miss a rehearsal or meeting. Be on time. Be early. Be first. Be ready. Bring ideas. Sacrifice for your art. Listen to the ideas of others and make something new and unexpected together. Amplify the unique strengths of each member of your team. It is unprofessional to not do what you say you will do. Raise the bar of professionalism together, and demand more of each other. Demand respect so that your energy can go into the work, not the work around starting to work. I wish for respect.
– Use what you know, and trust that your artistic voice is unique in all the world. You are enough. When you are most afraid to share or speak up is usually the time that your voice can change the course of a project for the better. Practice sharing and creating before you are ready. The time is always now. The stories you tell must be personal and vital and truthful. Your work is only as good as the story you choose to share. Share stories that scare you and excite you and challenge you. I wish for personal investment.
– There is never enough support in the arts. The budgets are non-existent or never big enough. The equipment needs to be better. The lack of props and costumes and lights and resources is dispiriting. It is easy to be stifled in work because of the feeling of a lack of support. However, within the challenges and limitations and true frustrations about equipment and time and space to work, there is always a path through imagination and creativity to astounding solutions. There is never a better time than now and you are limited only if you think you are. Trust your audience and challenge your audience by asking them to meet you half way. An audience is always willing to work when the story being told has integrity, heart, and imagination. I wish for fearlessness and joy.
To the VTF Class of 2016 I wish for two more years of hard work and success TOGETHER. You have great tools at your disposal. Don’t talk about using them: USE THEM. Make things together. Share things for each other and with each other. Don’t hide. Keep helping to create a cohesive identity; you are stronger together than you are alone. Don’t wait for a better time or more resources. Your time is NOW.
I can’t wait to see what you make of your futures.
Fearlessness and Joy + Personal Investment + Respect = UNITY