The show which is currently running in Kenya at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi is based on a children TV series by the same name. Tinga Tinga, the animation was a 2010 children series which aired on BBCs CBeebies – a British preschool television network.
The show is based on ‘African Why’ (Explanatory) stories- stories that explain why animals have certain features and idiosyncrasies. Tinga Tinga tales derives the name from Tanzania’s Tinga Tinga Arts- a mid-20th Century art style that developed in Oyster Bay area Dar Es Salaam. The craft employs brightly colored paintings which were also rendered in the TV show. Produced by Homeboyz Entertainment and UK based Tiger Aspect Production under Claudia Llyod. The 11-minute show which also aired on Disney would have 52 episodes spread in 2 seasons.
Tinga Tinga Tales the musical as a theatrical performance first ran in 2016 at one of Nairobi’s event venue The Elephant in Westlands. At the time, the show featured veteran thespian John Sibi Okumu, Iddi Achieng, Elsaphan Njora, Phy, Karimi Wamae and renowned musician Eric Wainaina. Of the 2016 cast, only Eric Wainaina, Elsaphan Njora and Karomi Wamae are still part of the showcase. The new additions are radio Broadcaster Eddy Kimani, Ray Kibet, Kendi Nkonge, Atemi Oyungu, Alvan Gatitu and Nyokabi Macharia.
The organisers of the performance have gone an extra mile to give Kenyans, during this month of September, a wonderful theatre experience. Sound, lights and other effects are being controlled by professionals to usher in a quality that would keep theatre veterans and newbies glued to their seats during the show. Furthermore, given the extreme height of the theatre chairs- not made for children Tinga Rain Production under Hirst ordered 280 zebra covered cushions to give children an advantage of immersing themselves in the magic of wonder land on the extended stage.
Tinga Tinga Tales the musical, being a family show promises to be among the few shows that try to nurture young children into the world of theatre. Furthermore, given the shows proximity to the audience it captures their imaginations and makes them part of the show. As the show’s producer Claudia Lloyd told Voice of America in 2016, “Tinga is Fantastical and full of imagination and creativity,” elements she hopes to nurture among young people.
*This story first appeared on Afroway Magazine. Check out the digital publication below