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His love for live performances grew at a tender age. He began his journey as an actor doing travelling theatre and later performances at the Kenya National Theatre. Three years into acting and only receiving meagre income, he made up his mind. He was going to venture into this art.
Martin Kigondu, embarking on a journey of uncertainty joined the Phoenix Players where he got a position as an usher. He was elevated to an Assistant after which he became a Stage Manager. Years later, he is not only an Actor but also a Script Writer, Director, Producer and the Founder of Prevail Arts Company.
It has been a journey of a whole 11 years. Prevail Arts Company as Kigondu tells us started on his mother’s rooftop. As a young person, he would call his friends to assemble on top there .It is where they would rehearse on certain ideas and concept they developed then. As time went by, Kigondu and his team did performances for kids and along the way, they attracted several NGOs.
In the midst of all this, they got an opportunity to work with UNICEF. But just when they thought they had taken off, it closed down due to the uncertain nature of the 2013 general elections in Kenya.
It was a huge blow and indeed they stopped acting for a couple of years. However, the ignition of acting did not let him rest for too long. In 2015, Kigondu re-shelved the company’s idea.
This time, he was not going to let a thing distract him. With a more experienced approach to management, he polished and redefined the whole concept. He was determined to be more profound, progressive and in deed professional.
Rejuvenated, he discovered that he needed to narrow down to a special line in film and theatre.
“I felt there was a lack of professionalism in producing and so decided to venture in that direction. I wanted to be better; create a more conducive environment for not just the money but also for creative aspect of our work.”
Now, he was convinced that he wanted to be a Director. He had figured that he needed to build respect around his brand not only as an actor but also as the director.
New Kind of Entrepreneur
To brush up on his management skills Kigondu enrolled in The Go Down Arts Centre – Creative Entrepreneur 7th cohort team where he later graduated. Advancing, he applied for their copyright class and upon acceptance worked hard to be a certified copyright specialist under the Havard program.
It has been a journey of starting from the roots and working his way up. Kigondu continues to grab onto as many workshops and seminars as he ‘Keeps Art It’
He has so far completed programs with The Theatre Company, New York Film School Seminars and Go Down programs among others. He keeps grabbing onto such workshops and seminars, this is just to keep growing himself every day.
“If I said being an entrepreneur and building a brand is easy – I would be lying.”
His mother on the other hand has always reminded Kigondu that patience is crucial and he believes in working hard and always putting his best foot forward.
While there are options to take the shorter routes to succeed, Kigondu and his team have taken the longer route. A route that is founded on consistency and patience, that no matter what happens, they still rub off the dust and keep moving ahead. This is what has established their credibility in the film and theatre industry.
“We are focusing on making Prevail Arts Company a bigger brand and a respectable name in the arts world.”
The Positive mind-set
It takes time to build a following and the society still looks at us as ‘not serious’ people. There are times when Kigondu has felt like giving up. Retaining a positive mind-set and looking at the long term dream is what keeps him afloat. The future is bright all the same.
“I’ve wanted to give up, when the halls are empty and when the state, society and institutions regard us foolish.”
He is however encouraged that Broadway and the West End suffered in their budding stages yet still struggle through such stereotypes. He believes that if the Art industry is respected, they will in deed get there someday soon.
“So with this sense of purpose you have to have a positive mind-set because when the times get rough you need something to remind you of the bigger picture.”
Lessons in early days or scriptwriting and directing
This is an industry according to Kigondu, needs to the players to research intensively. This will sharpen the craft. He advises upcoming script writers and directors to be informed and therefore read a lot, watch a lot and yearn for knowledge. It is a unique space that has high profile personalities who are very smart and sometimes intimidating due to their huge achievements.
Advice to the younger ones
My mother says beans grow fast and are ready and out faster than a tree. Therefore, prefer to be a tree. This means that you take your time, gain ground and your foundations will grow strong and you will stand for a lifetime and beyond producing good fruit.”
In conclusion, Kigondu advices that as graduates come in to the job market, they should remember that the graduation certificate is great but without focus it will only stay hanging on the wall.
“Get out; volunteer, be uncomfortable, start small, usingoje serikali. Start where you are, where you can.”
Prevail Arts Company has a play coming up; ‘What Happens In The Night’. Watch out for more from Prevail Arts Company.
They promise you profound and progressive art; theatre, film, dance, poetry and literature.