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them know that they can achieve positive things. Look, the flip side is that if you don’t give people power they will go and take it and some- times they will take it in ways that are not positive. Alternatively, they may seek power elsewhere in ways that may be negative and in ways that may have negative impacts on society. They may seek it on the street or they may seek it in their house. If you disenfranchise a man he will go home and still want to be a man. He may con- front the woman of the house and where do they go with all that energy? What do they do with it? Sometimes it turns in on themselves.”

Amani is seen as a leader in his field. When asked about his own life, I felt a sense of sorrow in his voice, as he described how the establishment of this country has never given him the status he and others feels he is due. He describes this as a humbling experience. Amani is known throughout the industry and even has a cult fol- lowing but the remuneration due to him or the work due to him has been and is still denied. He be- lieves this is because of his politics or how people view his politics. “I got a phone call from the National Theatre the other day” he says, “they wished to have my plays included in their season. When I went to see them they didn’t even know my name, they had no idea who I was, they had done no re- search about me whatsoever. They were working with some people who I had mentored and they had no idea who I was. Kwame Kwei- Armah, a now famous black actor, had told them about me, now they

say they know, but do they really know or are they just responding? So it means nothing to me – it is more for them than for me. I take it as it is, with a pinch of salt, it means nothing. It’s too late and they don’t really know, they just do it because they think they should and they will just stick it in the ar- chive and their job is done. That’s no good to me, I want to be doing my plays now.”

gest things I have had to overcome in my life”, says Amani, “is my ego. Ego is crucial in the arts. If you are not careful or not aware you can become pumped up and puffed up thinking that you are god’s gift to anyone. It is therefore crucial to maintain your ego in a world that is full of ego, in an industry that professes and pushes forward ego. Egotistical people are seen as role models, yet the reality is that they are not, they are selfish individuals that think about self. The arts are much more about collective. Learning that the ego does not really take you far was a very important les- son for me.”

Amani believes that thea- tre is fundamental to our lives. Song, dance and drama articulate who we are as humans and helps

Being treated this way might send some people mad or make them give up, but not Amani. “I realised a long time ago that the race is not for the swift, it is about endurance. When you get those kind of rebut- tals you perfect yourself, you have to be better. You can’t afford the mistakes that others have afforded. Every time you create its got to be of a high level because you might not get another chance. It makes you a better artist because you have to graft. Some people are watching you to make a slip, which you cannot afford to take. I do cul- tural theatre, theatre that has mes- sages and meanings that may not all be palatable to the authorities, so I try to find spoonfuls of sugar to help the politics go down!”

Amani is always trying to perfect himself, even now. “One of the big-

give meaning to our lives. Without theatre, he says that we will just shrivel up and die. I asked him about his legacy and how he would like to be remembered, he told me that just being remembered was enough. When pushed he went on to say that he would like to be remembered as the person that put the ‘R’ into ritual theatre and the person that gave African theatre some dignity. “One of the things that I am mostly proud of is that we liberated the African artist from the shackles of naturalism. In the past, African artists would often gesticulate too much and be too animated. They were using a style that was not culturally theirs. Naturalism is trying to recreate reality and you can’t beat reality, so theatre should be something great than reality, somewhere you can dream. Theatre in this way can be a source of liberation.” Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36
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