Kenya’s popular children’s musical Tinga Tinga Tales, based on African folk tales from the animal kingdom, will debut in New York for two weeks from 13 – 20 October.
Directed by British producer and multi-Baftaaward winner Claudia Lloyd, and Kenyan celebrity pop singer/songwriter Eric Wainaina (Mo Faya, New York Theatre Festival), the musical comprises African folklore, live music and storytelling.
Animal characters are strong features of the African storytelling tradition, and the cartoon taps into this age-old tradition by using Kenyan children’s fables to explain questions from the animal kingdom, such as why the giraffe’s neck is long and how the chameleon got its colours.
Tinga Tinga Tales is an interactive show for children as well as adults first produced in 2016 and has a stellar cast with the likes of Eddie Kimani, Alvan Gatitu, Ray Kibet, Miriam Macharia, Kendi Nkonge and Karimi Wamae Rimbui.
The band includes Benjamin Kabaseke, Victor Kimetto, Marvin Maveke, Ted Mwangi, Tetu Shani andChris Adwar.
The production is named after Tinga Tinga, an art movement from Tanzania that originated in the 1970s from the art style of the late Edward Saidi Tingatinga. Today, hundreds of artists produce work inspired by his vividly coloured paintings of animals, cultural narratives and elaborate designs against flat colour backgrounds. The show, inspired by the book and television series of the same name by Llyod, will play at the New Victory Theatre in New York City, the only full-time Broadway theatre for children and families. The cartoon show has about 50 episodes.
“I’m thrilled to be able to give back to an audience that I’ve borrowed so much from,” said Wainaina, who also plays the lead character Monkey. “We all borrow from each other and I’m really happy to go and show this African manifestation of all this music that I’ve been listening to.”
Lloyd excited to bring East African children’s tales, visual arts and music tradition to the United States said to Reuters, “There’s no reason why this couldn’t tour around the world. I would love it to go to pan-African capital cities and spread the Tinga-love a bit.”
Tinga Tinga Tales was staged to audiences at the Kenya National Theatre for a month in September. According to the director, the show has the potential to reach a much broader audience than the one it has so far entertained.