Karishma Bhagani is one intelligent, intellectual, beautiful human being that I am privileged to know. One second she wasn’t in my life and the next she was. She has this smooth savvy way of getting me out of my comfort zone into the hot seat, if not the fire, for which I’m thankful. But it also makes me super suspicious of any text I get from her that says, ‘What are you up to?’. My mental fists immediately rise and I’m like why, why! Why! Then she responds: relax, I’m just checking on you.
I find dramaturges and dramaturgy fascinating. I love it but I wouldn’t want to be one. I would love to sit in a room full of directors, dramaturges and playwrights and just listen then find someway of executing what they spoke about. If you don’t know what dramaturgy is then Google is your friend. As a director, producer, scholar and dramaturge, Karishma literally reads between the lines of my scripts and tells me why they are working or not working. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a friend like that. She goes the extra mile to find the origin of a concept, or topic or work and is able to relay it simply and humbly.
In Kampala, having a dramaturge isn’t common. Having a director who understands how to merge different ideas, symbols and ways of seeing together isn’t common either. This may be due to a lack of trust in the industry. Idea theft or even just a shortage of understanding in the form prevents artwork from being pushed that extra mile. Work tends to stay at its first and second draft, not because it is genius but simply because there is no one to ask the serious questions about it. Dramaturges ask those serious questions and I’m lucky to know one. However, it does take a thick skin to allow someone to ask questions about your work. Sometimes it is easier to fight and defend but I’ve learned from experience that opening my work for critical viewing raises it to a higher artistic level that I could not have achieved on my own.
Karishma is part of an initiative that I am super excited about called the NAIROBI MUSICAL THEATRE INITIATIVE (NBO MTI) . Finally africans can have musicals with stories that they understand with rhythms of home. Check out Karishma’s article about it below.
Thank you Karishma sticking around through the rough times and sharpening the rough edges of my work.