Friday, 16 August 2013

Benon Kigozi joins the Mango Roses team - Welcome Docta Bee

Classically trained pianist, Benon Kigozi is also a lover and performer of  jazz.  Welcome aboard Dr BEE. 
Benon Kigozi is a colleague who has been a steady support ever since I arrived in Kampala. Recently, I decided to go a step further and co-opt him onto the music team for Mango Roses. Since this is a Broadway-Fusion show, it just makes eminent sense to have him- he knows the music of both worlds! Besides, he will bring his skills of collaboration as he harnesses local musicians to keep the African pulse of the musical. Welcome aboard, Ben.

Ben wears many hats. Read more about him on the official page for Dr Benon Kigozi from Makarere University, Kampala.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Auditions Update

So, get yourself ready. find a song that suits your voice, one where you can SHOW OFF! We (the team) will be looking for a magical personality to match the need to light up the space with you personality, your voice, your body and the way it can move! (If you want to dance in the show.)

Once you have found a song, send me a note and I will whip it off to Mary Ann...just in case she needs to bring the score.

About the Choreographer

I first met Desire as a fellow participant in the KADS Pantomine, Red Riding Hood. Later, I invited his dance troupe, Yutta Konvictz Society  ( a contemporary dance troupe) to perform ROMANZA at my school. I was thoroughly impressed and as soon as I knew that Mango Roses was a possibility, I wanted Desire on board.

A poignant scene from Romanza. Desire on the ground!
Tereka Kenneth Desire
Dancer, Choreographer, poet, Actor

Tereka Kenneth Desire is a citizen of Uganda born on April 25, 1986 to the late Dr. Moses Byaruhanga and Miss Betty Nantongo. Once, during a 2006 vacation, he was invited to join a dance workshop by Keiga Dance Company directed by Mr. Jonas Byaruhanga. This workshop lasted three weeks and it changed his life. He went on to perform with the Keiga dance company and under it they performed in the Dance Week, the first ever BAYIMBA International Music Festival at Kyadondo Rugby Club.
He has trained and danced with:-                                                          
The Stepping Stones Dance Company which was directed by the Late Susan Bamutenda.
Mutumizi Dance Company, where he worked with choreographers Isaac and Sam Lutaya
He was later invited to join the Uganda National Contemporary Ballet (Burudani) under the leadership of Madam Valerie Miguel. In addition to that, he was invited to perform with the MAKARAMBA Dance Company, performed for the Street Art Festival organized by the Alliance Francaise and the German Cultural Center, under the direction of Maurice Yeka.
Desire is also a member of Latino Flavor Uganda and they perform every last Wednesday of the month at the National Theatre (Latin dances)
He has trained and worked with groups like Projecto de Latino Dance, Heaven Anti-Aids foundation, Gazelle, Living Springs, Clay Dance Company, UTAA (UGANDA YOUTH TALENTS AGAINST AIDS), and the Destiny Africa Choir.
In addition, he went on to start up his own dance company called the Yutta-Konvictz Society and since starting it up in 2007, he has had an opportunity to combine his love of performing and teaching/ sharing with other young people who hear about the arts but can’t get the opportunity to find it.
His professional work includes the pieces he created for the 3rd Bayimba International Festival (DEATH IS CALLING), The Dance Transmissions Festival (ENTRAPPED) Dance Week festivals (IN THE CHAMBERS OF BONDAGE, DRENCHED TEARS, THE TUNNEL OF FEAR, and TWISTED REALITY).
His choreography has also been performed in Kenya with the Watoto Drama team, in Rwanda with the Uganda Youth Talents Against AIDS (Hope against AIDS) and during the World Aids Day celebrations in Lugogo.
Desire has taken part as a dancer and choreographer in the biggest Christmas presentation in Uganda, the Christmas Cantata at Watoto Church (formally KPC) also the Watoto International Conferences, and he has participated in the World AIDS Day Dance-off Competitions, and Hot Steps.
Desire has had the opportunity to work with several choreographers from around the world, including
1.  Jonas Byaruhanga (Uganda)
2.  James (Kenya)
3.  Ivan Estegneev (Russia)
4.  Testulo (Japan)
5.  Robin and Sean Scantlebury (USA)
6. Kristina Johnstone (South Africa)
7.  Jeremy Katodolo (DRC Congo)
8.  Mr. Kato (Uganda)
9. Valarie Miguel (France)
10. Eddu and Isa ( Sarakasi Dance Company, Kenya)
11. Totto Niwenshuti (Rwanda)
12; Nasibu Project (Dancers from Germany,Brussels, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands)
He is a very down-to-earth kind of guy who enjoys keeping a low profile. He is kind, charismatic, and creative in everything he does.

Visual Artist Ronex Ahimbisibwe comes aboard

On Saturday 10 August, in Ronex's backyard/studio, I get my first view of one of the installation pieces created especially for Mango Roses. Actors/Singers and audience will have the opportunity to build upon this work! I love the way Ronex thinks and processes ideas.

The Bowl of Expectation...or call it what you will...according to Ronex. The 'strings' are reminiscent of African musical instuments. You are free to come up with your own interpreations...but notice the 'liasons' in the knotted strings, the pregnant belly in the bowl. And the red...well, pain for now! Ronex promises to provide a little write-up for each piece created. 

I appreciate and respect the art of Ronex Ahimbisibwe and I was thrilled when he accepted the request to design the artwork for the show. In fact, he has offered to do what I had dreamt he would do: he plans to create an entire exhibition on the Mango Roses theme. So, we can expect even more over the coming weeks. If you are not familiar with his work, do pop in to the Afri-Art Gallery. You won't regret it.

My crude digital manipulation of Ronex's work - I did get permission!

Proposed Rehearsal Schedule

Before signing up and committing to this show, please note the proposed rehearsal schedule. Both Maryann & Kate have jobs in New York, so their time with us is very limited.  Make sure that you can make yourself available for all rehearsals. Additional sessions will be provided in the week for any singers or actors who need additional coaching.

Saturday, 28th September - Mango Roses Auditions (12:00 noon. - 6 p.m.)
Sunday, 29th September - All-day workshop for successful candidates (10 a..m-6 p.m.)
Saturday 5th October - Rehearsal, 2-6 p.m.
Sunday 6th October - Rehearsal, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday 12th October  Rehearsal, 2-6 p.m.
Sunday 13th October - Rehearsal, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m
Saturday 19th October  Rehearsal, 2-6 p.m.
Sunday 20th October - Rehearsal, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m
Monday 21 October - Technical Rehearsal - Sound and Light
Tuesday 22 October - FREE for NOW
Wednesday 23 October - Full run through
Thursday 24 Full Dress Rehearsal
Friday 25 SHOW 1
Saturday 26 SHOW 2
Sunday 27 SHOW 2

The inspiration for this musical

Akampene Island, Lake Bunyonyi, commonly called Punishment Island
In remote Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda, girls who were getting pregnant before marriage were abandoned on the tiny island of Akampene, commonly known as Punishment Island. Here, most died, but some were saved by men in search of ‘free’ brides. I visited the island last fall (2012) on a school excursion with Year 8 students. Of all the activities planned for the four-day stay in the area, it was this ‘story’ which ignited a response from the students, providing inspiration for several very powerful fictional narratives and poems. On return to Kampala, and further research, I came across the work of Laura Cini, an Italian film-maker, who went to the area last year to look for survivors. The mission was successful and she has embarked on a feature documentary to raise public awareness of the story. For more on this, please visit:

Here are some pics from my visit to Lake Bunyonyi last September (2012):
These pictures speak for themselves

We had a chance to visit some local school children and spend some time with them

A local village boy is intrigued by the city children who are engaged in making crafts, helped by the village women

Some local children wanted to taste the snacks that my students were eating. (Chips, of course!)

About Maryann Ivan & Kate Chapman

Maryann Ivan and Kate Chapman are accomplished musicians who work on Broadway, New York. I have known Maryann for several years and we collaborated on several projects over a span of years while I was working in Turkey. A composer, accomplished pianist and percussionist, Maryann is a gift to this production. Kate Chapman is a mesmerizing vocalist and keeps busy on Broadway. Last year, I met Kate Chapman, and she has also agreed to jump on board to share her skills and talents with us.

Follow Kate in a recent radio  interview:

Kate Chapman

Mary Ann Ivan

I promise to provide pictures and some sounds files in this space! So, stay tuned for more. As promised, I found some blurb on Maryann. (It's pretty easy!)

For more about Kate and her amazing story about weight loss, follow this link:
For more about KATE, check this link:

Of the various projects on which we collaborated, one of the most memorable is the Maryann's musical adapation of a moving story, Boy Overboard, by Morris Gleitzman, about an Afghan family who seek a new life in Australia but never quite make it there. The musical was staged at Baskent University School in Adana, Turkey. Here are some shots from that show.

Prior to the show, the students and Maryann visited an Afghan refugee village not too far from Antioch. After listening to their stories, the script was modified and the lyrics had a new meaning. A powerful moment. Here we are (can you find me? ) sitting with the village elders who cautioned us about producing a play that tells the right story.

Proposed Sequence of the Musical

Proposed Sequence for the musical

Keep in mind that some (or much) of this could change during the first full-day workshop. It is merely a skeleton to work with.

Prelude/Opening: Dance and Instrumental  - Dating-Trysts-Pregnancy-Baby Extravaganza
1 Opening Scene: Bistro/Piano Bar (Rosie and Jamie Rose are taking a break from the duties at the home for unwed mothers.  Rosie’s brother, Petero, has brought along three of his buddies. They all love music and dance and the Bistro is the perfect place to chill. At the end of the scene, Rosie and Jamie-Rose are ready to visit the local psychic, a woman who hails from Nigeria)
2.Visit to the Psychic: During this visit, Jamie-Rose learns that her grandmother is dying, and she is in possession of an important letter. The past unravels on stage as the psychic narrates the secrets of the past. (The trysts under the mango tree)
3.Farewell Church Service:  Flashback to the Fergusson’s departing in disgrace from Africa. Their 15-year-old daughter is pregnant from James, the garden boy! The 15-year-old house help, Josephine, is pregnant from Dr Ferguson. The musical motifs will recur at the funeral.
4. The Elders banish Josephine to a remote island; flashback to her past
5. The Quest: Jamie Rose needs to visit her grandmother, and find the letter…but she gets to the village too late.
6. The Funeral has ended: exiting the church, processing to the traditional burial, recurring musical motifs from farewell service of disgrace
7. At the burial, Russell, nicely drunk, reveals the letter…and the truth – the letter is from Dr Fergusson to the young Josephine, pledging his love and eternal support for the child. James decides to tell his version of the story…the truth about the birth of Russell’s birth – that he was the fruit of a malliaison. James also tells Jamie-Rose that she, too, is the fruit of a malliaison.
8.  Both Roses establish the truth about their connection – they share a grandfather! –

9. Meanwhile, Petero and Jamie Rose find the mango tree…Petero thinks that a move to England will solve his job problems and make his future clearer…so why not try to hook up with his distant relative…and the cycle repeats itself! LOL

The Cast of Characters

    An Original Musical for 16 characters + dancers

Main Characters

Jamie-Rose Fergusson: (Rosemary James Fergusson) is the daughter of James Fergusson & Mary-Lou Braithwaite.  One of the main protagonists in her twenties, she is not obviously of mixed race and has grown up in New York.  She has come to Africa to help Rosie Ntuume to manage a shelter for unwed mothers.

Rosie Ntuume:  Also in her twenties, her father, Rosso, is of mixed race and she has grown up in an African village. She and Jamie-Rose manage the shelter for unwed mothers and their children . She embarks on a quest to find out the mysterious contents of her dying grandmother's letter which contains the family secrets of her and Jamie-Rose. Rosie's dad is the village drunk and she has had to parent her younger brother when her mother was killed in a shooting accident soon after Petero was born.

Rosso Jay (James) Ntuume: The village drunk, he is the son of Josephine and Dr. Russell Fergusson. Named after his father, with his middle name taken from his surrogate father. Though he carries the blood of a white man, he is black. The villagers, of course, have nick-named him “Sonny Fuggyzone”… Son of Fergusson. This name carries shame, and only adds to Rosso’s bitterness in life. He is lost a lost soul. He fathers two children: Rosie and Petero. His wife Salvation is killed in a gun accident caused by him and he has not put down the bottle ever since. It is he who reveals the letter at Josephine's funeral and puts the mystery of both families to rest.

BigMama - A Nigerian Psychic of a certain indistinguishable age.  She has fled her country for reasons that are mostly mysterious. Her mission is to empower women.

James Ntuume (Garden Boy) & James, the elderly grandfather  is  the garden ‘boy’ to the Fergusson’s, (early 20’s, a charming young man). He courts Josephine Ntuume, but is sidetracked by an affair with Rosalind Fergusson. After impregnating her, he is never allowed to see her again. Back in U.S., Rosalind gives birth to the child and, against the wishes of her parents, she insists that the child carry the name of his father, James. Hearing that Josephine has been banished to an island, he rescues and marries her, agreeing to raise her child as his own. The child is called Rosso…for that is how the man at the registry offices understands their pronunciation of “Russell”. He maintains his charm throughout the years, proving his loyalty and love to the bitter end.

Josephine Ntuume - 15-year-old house help of Dr and Mrs Fergusson
The mother of Rosso Jay Ntuume . Between 15 and 17 years old, she is the house help for the Fergussons. She has an affair with Dr. Russell Fergusson and becomes pregnant. She has a letter from the doctor, promising his support and protection, but she confronts her parents instead and banished to an island to die. Some men visit with the intention of a free bride, but James comes to her rescue and marries her and raises her child.   

Other Characters
Petero - Rosie's younger brother
Innocent - Petero's friend
John - Petero's friend
Perfect - Petero's friend

Grace - Rosie's friend
Pretty - Rosie's friend
6 Dancers (3 men and 3 women)

Mango Roses: A Synopsis

Two women in their mid-20’s are working as volunteers in a home for unwed mothers and their children in an African city.

Jamie-Rose Fergusson has recently arrived from New York. Her grandmother once lived in Africa but went back quite suddenly. While keen on her work helping to manage the shelter, she is also open to connecting the dots of her family history in Africa. Rosie Ntuume moved to the city to manage the shelter. Her grandmother also has a story carefully hidden in the past. In due course, both women find that they share a common story and they are more closely linked than anyone could ever imagine; their link can be traced back to a mango tree somewhere on a remote island nestled in the waters of a deep lake where the spirits of the dead are ready to reveal the secrets of the past.

This gripping tale, told in music and dance, will stay with you long after the melodies and drum beats have ceased.

About the Auditions

Mango Roses is a musical with a difference. The musical has a name and a basic story line. If you choose to audition, and if you are selected, you will be expected to contribute to the creation and refinement of the script and lyrics. Read more about this process in "Meet the Composer".

Auditions will take place on Saturday, 28th September, 2013 and will begin at 12:00 noon at Jazz Ville Bar and Restaurant in Bugolobi/

For this show, I need competent singers/actors and dancers who are willing to spend the entire first Sunday (28th September) working with me, the musicians, the writers, the dancers, and the artist as we give shape and refinement to the musical. The actor/singers will decide who sings what song, and the dancers will decide who dances and where. At the end of the day, Maryann and Kate will refine the lyrics and script and compose the music. The artist, Ronex Ahimbisibwe, will also be present at the workshop to allow the actors to contribute to one of his installation pieces custom created for this musical.

So, what will you need for the audition?

A prepared piece of music or dance. Keep in mind that the musical will be in the Broadway genre with an African pulse! So, if you have a Broadway tune, be ready to sing it. While Maryann can probably play anything you want to sing, you might want to give me a heads-up in email: and I will let her know so she can bring some score along from  New York.
Read through the CAST of CHARACTERS and get the gist of the story. And welcome aboard!