Tebere Arts Foundation will, through the month of October, be showing the Tropical Fish play. Tropical Fish is an adaptation from award winning writer Doreen Baingana’s 2002 title story Tropical Fish. I am going to be running a series talking to different people taking part. In this episode I talk to Esteri Tebandeke.
“I’m Esteri Tebandeke a Ugandan actress both for theatre and film.” Until she introduces herself, you may bypass Esteri without notice. She is so humble and down to earth. Her past excellent record precedes her. She is one of the actors in Uganda who have gone ahead to beat a path that many actors are diligently following. Her work speaks for itself.
Acting comes with a very tight schedule for many established actors. For Esteri, it comes with being unavailable for a future time t because of a project that is due to happen at that time. When she was first approached to feature in the Tropical Fish play in 2016, she was unable to make it. A fixed schedule awaited her.
Every time the idea was bounced on her, she could not catch it until 2020. Doreen Baingana had joined the Tebere Arts Residence to learn scriptwriting. The play had been staged before but it was not fully adapted for stage. From her background as a fiction and creative non-fiction writer, Doreen did not have experience in scriptwriting. She joined the residence to learn more about it.
When she enrolled, she was put under the tutorship of Samuel and Esteri Tebandeke as director and actor respectively. They were to help her developed the play, a project which was very well executed. When the opportunity came up to have the play staged, there was no better person to execute the role than Esteri herself. And this time around, the window was open, she had the time.
In the play, Esteri is co-cast with Lulu Jemimah to take on the role of Christine, a 22 year old who narrates her escapades with a mzungu man to a bartender.
The team at Tebere headed by Asiimwe Deborah Kawe has done an amazing job in making sure that the play is very well executed. On this project are skilled theatre persons executing different roles who are working in tandem with young and emerging artistes.
The play is directed by Mshai Mwangola based in Kenya and Sarah Nansubuga as a co-director. “Working with a co-director on ground is a role Sarah has done very well. Sometimes you have so many questions and you need immediate answers and Sarah is always there to answer them.”
Today, there are more acting opportunities than there ever were before. Esteri believes that anyone who wants to take to acting should do so ASAP. “You don’t need permission to be the person you want to be. Get your phone and record yourself. Share that with people who are going to give you feedback. And accept the feedback and act on it.
She advises anyone interested in acting to be ready to put in the time. “I won’t lie to you that it is easy. You have to put in the hard work. You have to be willing to learn.”
Image source: Maisha Film Lab