The van rolls on the highway. The whole troupe is in high spirits. Occasional jibes and songs of good cheer characterize this trip. Sometimes all passengers sing along to the music playing on the van’s sound system and sometimes they listen to whoever knows the song better. Sometimes all is silent as the driver skillfully presses ahead in this venture. The troupe is riding under the banner, “RENEGADE VENTURES” and they are heading to the slopes of Mount Kenya.
Today is just but another of those trips that this troupe has embarked on to chart waters that have not been charted before. They are taking theatre to the people from one end of the country to the other. In October 2015 Renegade Ventures staged its first show outside Nairobi in Nyeri at the White Rhino Hotel. Since then various towns have benefitted from the talented artistes that bravely face all the challenges with one key objective, perform.
In July 2016, from first to third of the month, Nairobi felt the thunder as Renegade Ventures stamped its presence in Nairobi. Vibrations were felt from one corner of the city to the other as Renegade staged a powerful show in the native Kikuyu language. The comedy directed by Tash Mitambo who is also the founder of Renegade Ventures featured some of the best talents in the industry. The audience could not have enough as they kept coming back for more servings. Tash Mitambo was however still modest about this accomplishment. He points out that Renegade still has a long way to go before his dreams are fully realized.
On the question of whether Renegade was ready for the stiff competition in Nairobi, Tash had this to say, “Nairobi is home, this is where I was born, raised up, learnt the trade and where I have always practiced. I know the terrain like the back of my hand. We are not here to compete with the existing companies. None of them qualifies to be a worthy competitor, our aspirations are far much great to be weighed on the same scales as the others. We are looking far beyond the horizon.”
Other than theatre, Renegade has interests and investments in film and television industry. Renegade seeks to empower artistes to think more beyond living from hand to mouth. Renegade believes that opportunity is all people need to open their eyes and further their dreams. Performing Arts in Kenya seems to be concentrated within Nairobi and Renegade is out to open up the rest of the country to quality, professional performances.
It is sadly true that actors and directors in Kenya entertainment scene live from hand to mouth. On the contrary, executive producers are said to rake in millions while those that make it possible to earn them are living in abject poverty. Actors and directors receive just enough to keep them alive for the next show. Many believe that the only way to jerk yourself out of this quagmire is by becoming producers themselves. Renegade wishes to change the tale. Actors and directors can practice and benefit from their art. After all, they are the wheels that keep the industry moving.
Renegade Ventures has raised mixed feelings and reactions in the industry. For some, it is competition for a bite off the pie they have been enjoying alone over the years. For others it is a challenge and opportunity to open new frontiers in the Kenyan entertainment industry. Whatever the reaction is, Renegade is simply here to make the game more enjoyable and profitable to all players. Belt up, the Renegade will take no prisoners in the quest to change the sad tale that is our industry.