The International Committee of the League of Professional Theatre Women has selected Rwandan artist and Sundance Institute alum Odile Gakire Katese as the first recipient of the Rosamond Gilder/Martha Coigney International Award. The award is named for women who have exerted extraordinary influence in the international arts community, and it recognizes an artist who, in her own right, has had a powerful impact on her own community and the international community at large. Katese was one of 21 nominees from 10 countries and she will be recognized at a ceremony to be held Monday, October 17, 2011 at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at the CUNY Graduate Center, located at 365 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Admission is free.
Producing Artistic Director Philip Himberg with Odile Gakire Katese in Rwanda.
Katese participated as the 2008 “Playwright in Residence” at Sundance Institute East Africa and as a director with The Book of Life at the 2010 East Africa Theatre Lab. Her original play Nwgino Ubeho (Come and Be Alive) was also featured at the 2009 Theatre Lab.
Known to her colleagues and friends as “Kiki,” Katese is a playwright, novelist, screenwriter, poet, drummer, and actress. To many in her homeland of Rwanda and in the international arts community, she is also a cultural revolutionary. Born in Rwanda, she fled with her family to the Congo during the genocide.
She and her siblings were raised “in exile.” Educated in the Congo, she was not taught the language of the country of her birth, and for a time did not even know she was Rwandan. But Ms. Katese came to love her country, embraced her heritage, and undertook the job of building hope and happiness through art. She set out to create in Rwanda an artistic culture where there was little, to help a depressed and traumatized community find a reason to live again.
Katese is the Associate Director of the University Centre for Arts and Drama at the National University of Rwanda and is also presently writing a screenplay about AIDS, as well as a novel that explores the lives of several Rwandan women.
Please join Sundance Institute in congratulating her on this accomplishment!