To Yearn for the Vast and Endless Sea

We gather for the last time here on Manda at the Akili Dance Studio to say goodbye. I ask one question: What will you take away from your time at the Sundance Institute East Africa Theatre Lab? Here are some of the replies:

I am richer as a person and as an artist.
It has really touched my heart. I am more human.
I go away absolutely certain of my abilities. I have seen what more is possible. I am a playwright.
I thank God I have made new friends. I go back with loads of knowledge, challenged as a creator. I want to sustain the growth.
A reinvigorated sense of hope for the theatre of East Africa.
It’s nice to know I’m not alone; there are artists I share the same dream with.
I feel “reincarnated” in the theatre.
I feel pressure now to not give up on that space between idea and production. Anytime you are in Uganda, I have that ‘space’ for you.
I have happy tears. You have all redefined who I am.
Now we’ve become a family. I’m leaving this place a more rejuvenated Jacob.
For me, like a dream comes true – to meet many artists in East Africa. Thanks Sundance for making this happen. This is a new beginning for us to create a network in East Africa. I hope there is a next and a next and a next and a next…
I came as “Andnet”; I leave as CNN (note: we called him CNN because he was filming us every day, as our archivist).
To me, this is a family now. Sundance has protected us in a way. Sundance has started it and “we” have to continue it.
I feel like I’m Kenya, I feel like I’m Ethiopia, I feel like I’m Uganda. I feel like I’m Rwanda.
The important thing to me is ‘the space.’
You’ve enriched me in ways you may not be able to know.
I will miss the way we danced.
The first thing I take away is the value of smile. And I learned the word: Dramaturg.
I take away the power of listening. People here were listening.
Thank you for being true to you so I could be true to me.
I go back having learned to listen to the unsaid and unspoken.
Our destiny is in our hands.
The last story I told was the confluence in my life of Antoine de Ste-Exupery’s The Little Prince. I am staying in a house called “Baobab” surrounded by Baobab trees. Sundance's Theatre Program recently developed a musical called Saint Ex, about this author and pilot. In Rwanda, we stayed in a hotel called Le Petit Prince. And this morning I found this quote. I recited it as we watched the sea from our Studio window:

"If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” -Antoine de Ste. Exupery


Lead photo: