Phil Rickaby
Welcome to Episode 252 of Stageworthy. I’m your host Phil Rickaby. Stageworthy is a podcast about people in Canadian theatre featuring conversations with actors, directors, playwrights and more. If you want to support Stageworthy consider dropping some change in the virtual tip jar. You can find a link in the show notes. Your support helps me continue to bring you great conversations in Canadian theatre.

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My guest this week is the artistic director of Obsidian Theatre, Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu

a strange time to become the artistic director of obsidian theatre. Um, how has it been in this very strange time?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah, it’s really it’s really quite a time because I started July 1, and so that was an the midst of you know, everything and but the good fortune that I had is that I was I was very much in touch with a staff from when I was hired in January. So between January and June to the waves of the shifting changes, I was in communication with a with a staff in transition while Philip Aiken was still the artistic director. So it made for a bit of a smoother transition, having had all those ongoing conversations. And also, I felt like really lucky to be like to be starting a job in the middle of a pandemic. I mean, how many people can say that they started a job in the middle of a pandemic, so

Phil Rickaby
very true.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah, so that part that part was like it broke up the routine of, of, you know, the past the months preceding that to be like, okay, now I’m starting a new job and it was something to look forward to in them, even though it’s like a challenging time, it was still a change of pace. And so, yeah, lots lots I could say about that. Really? That’s such a loaded question.

Phil Rickaby
Sure. I mean, there’s – now, you I think have worked in as an intern ish position with obsidian. Previously as an ar- was there an artistic director internship or something similar. At some point.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
I did a I did a mentor apprentice which programme which was right while I was still in theatre school. I actually like that was like a more like 10 2008 or something. And that was a programme that used to be run by. They used to be run by obsidian and funded by Canadian Heritage that would pair up new upcoming artists with a mentor in the industry, and it will focus on non performers, so directors, designers, producers, administrators, and they would focus I’m a mentors at obsidian and also in the, in the theatre industry in the professional theatre industry. So it was an incredible year long programme that that allow give you exposure to the professional theatre scene. And unfortunately that funding was cut by Canadian Heritage a few years back button, but that’s how I saw that was how I kind of got my start in professional theatre and got my got my, my startup obsidian as well.

Phil Rickaby
And, um, I mean back then, did you ever think that you would be the artistic director of obsidian? What would What did you think? How did you think your career was going to go?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
I honestly I mean, I honestly cannot even remember but I definitely that was definitely not one of the thoughts on my mind. I wasn’t like I’m gonna run this company. Definitely no way my imagination It was like I I mean, I Philip Akin was such an incredible mentor to me. And, you know, it was very intimidating even when the job was posted to think that I would actually apply for it, you know, so it’s like, because that’s how I started in the industry. So it’s like, so No, I did not think of that at the time. It was really, it was just really an opportunity to connect with a cultural home as an artist and have a, you know, an artistic home that, that that also where I could just be myself as a Black artist. And so that was really important and kind of continue to serve that, that that purpose. Throughout my journey in my career, my name went on and started my own company, which is called ift to Freedom Theatre and got a lot of support from obsidian as I was doing that. And so I just went on my own trajectory, and then things have just kind of come full circle. Now.

Phil Rickaby
Did – I mean you mentioned Like that, that, you know, you saw the job posting and you what, what did you have to tell yourself to apply? Like, were you telling you something you shouldn’t? Like, what was that process like to do that?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Oh, it was, I mean, it was, you know, it’s just because I yeah, because I have I have, I feel so strongly about the company I have so, so much love for the company and, and for fulfilling. And so I was like thinking of myself going into it, and I knew I knew that I had had, you know, gain the skills to be able to do it after I you know, over a decade in the industry as a director, but it was still like, just because I had I had such such a specific relationship with like, you know, I grew up with that company, so, so I think it was more like so that’s, I think it was more for those reasons. I was like, Yeah, I could I could I go in there and you know, but I actually also the reason I did apply in the end was because I felt like I had so much because I knew I felt like I knew the company so well and had benefited so much from it. I knew the importance of the company and an ecology and and the opportunity to give back and to continue to build on the foundation that Philip Aiken and Alison Scylla Smith, who was the first artistic director and all the founding members had had had laid so I felt like there was opportunity to continue to grow and and build a company and and and I definitely need for it. So it was the mandate was something that I felt strongly about. So it was a clear it was I didn’t have to convince myself of anything in terms of the the importance of the company or the importance of the position and what I could do for Black artists in that position

Phil Rickaby
hmm Now, of course, I’m sure that that plans, like the position we’re in now is not what you thought we were going to be in. When you were first appointed when you when you got the job.

What – what what are your plans for the foreseeable future for obsidian? How do you how what’s happening with the plant with the season ahead? What’s happening? What how are you going to deal with the lack of theatre that we’re seeing in the in the immediate future?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s really it’s a very challenging time to plan, obviously. But I definitely feel there’s a huge opportunity right now to reach out to artists, Black artists across the country. I mean, obsidian has a national freedom mandate. And so being able to reach out and connect with Black artists across the country, has been my focus, especially, especially at this time following the murder of george bush. And the riots and everything it felt like the need to connect and to let Black artists know that they’re being seen. But they’re not alone they’re not alone wherever they are in the country has really been what I’ve spent a lot of my time on the phone just talking to artists across the country just be like, I don’t know your work, can you send me your work I actually I mean, you know, just finding out artists who are outside of my purview in Toronto and and getting to know their work and where they’re at in their in their practice. So that that has been that has been really great and and do that seeing what opportunities thinking about what opportunities and connections we can provide

different artists in different capacities. And it’s also like a big development near for obsidian as well.

So it’s really and we have a project as well that we are working on That we’re still figuring out a new project and figuring out the details of it right now. But it’s a mix of, it’s a mix of wanting to respond to this moment and wanting to respond to this moment meaning not just the pandemic, but

following the murder of George Floyd and the lions and and also wanted to increase our, our, our knowledge of who’s out there across the country.

Phil Rickaby
Hmm. I know that that Philip had a standing offer for for Black artists to come into the office and sit down and just talk anybody, any Black artist could come in and just like his door was open to them. And it sounds like you’re you’re continuing that in as best you can in a virtual way, right now. And that, that sounds like it’s especially now And you want to get to know artists and and and many of them may know obsidian but they don’t necessarily know you and you want it’s an opportunity for them to be introduced to you and for you to be introduced to them. And obsidian has always served and you know, Black artists in a way that and really put them put the put Black artists out in the forefront in the way that that unfortunately many other companies have not. As far as the relationship of obsidian with other companies, some of the companies that tend to be a lot wider How do you Is there a relationship that you see it and an example that can be set? Are there things that that that obsidian is doing or does to interact with with those companies and to sort of show them how they can be better

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Well, I mean, I think I think that my energy really has been right now going towards the Black artists themselves. And that’s where, like 100% of my energy has been going. So I haven’t I haven’t entered the second part of the question. That’s just no way my energy has been at the moment. And I think that, I think that right now, I think I need to continue to put my energy there with those with artists, and then with communities, with Black communities as well with our audiences and trying to see trying to see, you know, try to see how to engage them in this moment and what’s accessible how to access especially, we have a unique opportunity. In the moment we’re in in the sense of being a member we may be able to reach audiences that we haven’t been able to reach before because of because of have, you know the there the fact that the work is not about coming downtown to Toronto, it can be you know, he can watch it out in, you know, region park or all the GTA, greater GTA or all all across the country. So I think that’s really more where my brain is at. I think that in terms of ally ship with other companies that don’t have a cultural specific mandate, that’s really that’s really again as long as it still fits within demanded of Black putting Black artists first. There’s always opportunity for dialogue, but it’s has to, it has to still be the lens through which which I’m looking at any of those other possibilities and conversations.

Phil Rickaby
Normally, if I was talking to somebody who was an incoming artistic director, I would ask them, what has surprised them the most about their position. But I mean, as we’ve kind of already covered that in this peculiar strange time where we’re not doing we’re not in the office, we’re not doing the things that we normally would. Are there. I mean, you’ve mentioned the the the projects that you’re working on. Has Are you do you have in your mind like, when you think a return to this stage might happen or is that or is it still you just, you’re leaving that to the universe to answer that question.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Well, I mean, I think in terms of like, there have been surprises for sure like to like I was I was joking about this the other day about how like two weeks into the job I called Philip and I was like, You never told me about the emails either.

Like from my personal inbox, the inheriting Billups Aikens inbox has been

That was totally a surprise you know, you think in such bigger picture here in terms of pandemic return to the theatre, you know,

community building but the emails

nearly have been quite a surprise. I mean, I’m I think I recovered for my initial shock of how awful is that inbox. But it’s it’s truly a negotiation that I didn’t that I didn’t have to do before as like a freelancer or, you know, director or as a director of a smaller indie company. Yeah, and especially now there’s even more emails because that’s the only way we can really, I guess, communicate is through sending a tonne of emails. So.

So that’s a surprise. And

I have in terms of the return to the the future of theatre, I mean, I’m not I mean, I am kind of in a position right now. I’m just like, I mean, truly throwing gases in the air like everybody. Like at this point, it just feels like, like, it feels easier to try to respond to the moment and to plan for the future right now. And so and I don’t know if that’s a distraction. I mean, normally, you know, like, I feel the future is knocking and maybe the gates will be wide open, we’ll be like, ah, we’re not ready. We’re not ready. I don’t know. But it definitely feels feels like this. There’s so much unknown that it’s especially as a non branded company. Yeah. So it’s a bit tricky to

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, I feel like like, you know, you’re I’m kind of in the same the same mindset as you were. We don’t know what the future holds. We could make plans and then they will all fall through. Yeah, I’m basically assuming that once there’s an all clear it’ll be like six months before we get on the stage again, because then we to advertise and put the season together get right to put together and things like that. It’s going to take time, it won’t be like, you know, opening a restaurant in a few days after that, go ahead. It takes a lot longer.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah. And I mean, I know when when stage three was announced that was that those questions were coming up like, Okay, are you you know, you can now perform for 50 people endora you got a way to go, are you ready to go? And it’s like, it’s a whole process, you know, for theatre to just like, to just, like, be ready to go. So,

Phil Rickaby
yeah, don’t feel like like, yes, you know, you could fit you know, whatever theatre, you’re in fit 50 people but I am not confident that audiences are ready to come back into a room with even 50 people. You know, I think that at the moment –

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Are you ready to go into a restaurant indoors?

Phil Rickaby
I guess. I am not. I am not. I mean, I see people in there and always Gives me a little bit of anxiety. I’m like, how are you able to do that?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Mm hmm. No.

Phil Rickaby
I’m thinking also about that moment when a theatre when the lights go down and people start to cough and that meant nothing. Like a year ago and now, it’s like a gunshot in the theatre.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Exactly. It’s truly that’s a really good I haven’t heard to put it that way before but like, I mean, I get I’m getting really nervous. If and when I watch television, I see how close people are next to each other and tell Oh, my goodness, I know.

Phil Rickaby
I know those things were shot like six months ago. And I’m still like, how are you sitting next to that person like that?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Exactly. It feels very everything feels very crowded suddenly. Like the intimates the intimacy scenes, I’m like, how are you ever gonna do an intimate scene ever again. So well, you know the NBA Playoffs are happening. I mean, so I say that not because I know anything about the NBA but because my my coworkers do and That’s their thing. And that was like, yeah, they’ve managed to somehow, you know, make that work. So maybe there’s hope. I don’t know.

Phil Rickaby
I think they’re, I mean, there’s a certain amount of will that that makes like, of course, they’re also, you know, staying at luxury hotels in Florida to make all that happen, you know, but there’s, there’s will and I think we can make things happen. I just don’t think that our audience is ready to go there yet.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yes, yes, exactly. Yeah. And who can blame them?

Phil Rickaby
No. Yeah. Yeah. Especially when you think about, you know, traditionally in some theatres, the audience that that they see most often are the ones that are most at risk. That’s certainly a barrier and I think generally I I know like I think about myself, like I said, I’m not ready to go into a restaurant yet I’ll sit on the patio. So we could do something outside in a in an amphitheatre, maybe. But indoors, not yet.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah, and it’s a question on whether some speculation is whether our audiences will just get younger, and all will just be, we’ll just be curating work for younger audiences. And I think we have to.

Phil Rickaby
I think that that younger, you know, theatres that rely on their older audience are not necessarily playing a long game. Yeah. You know, we hear so much, especially in indie theatre, people are always like hand wringing. Where’s our audience? Where’s the audience going? And, you know, it, I think we have to look at at who we’ve been programming for. I think a theatre like like, like obsidian has generally a pretty good track record of doing some really interesting stuff. That is, you know, sort of appeals more to a younger audience and whereas some other theatres are not, although there are some exceptions.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I think I think you’re right like really who we programming for is going It’d be an even more practical question to have, rather than, like, you know, a value question or even an ideal question. It’s gonna be a really practical conversation moving forward.

Phil Rickaby
I kind of wonder if there’s also an opportunity there while our people are, you know, movie out, they are Netflix out there, they’re ready to go out and do something they haven’t done before. And the theatre could be that. Yeah, for people who haven’t seen plays very often the opportunity to see for an experience that is not watching a movie.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Totally. And the concern with that, for me is about the seasons. I mean, I think then, you know, just going into a colder season you know, Fall Fall, maybe, but just people when people generally want to be more indoors. So with with the pandemic, it’s just What what what would that incentive be? Hmm, but but you know, again, if we’re talking about fall of 2021, then it’s, you know, maybe we’ll have audiences in droves. At that point, everybody will be our summer of next year, maybe that will people be dying to be outside. Yeah,

Phil Rickaby
we can definitely Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, we can’t, we can’t know we and that’s, that’s the problem. That’s what makes makes it so difficult in the last few months have been talking to people, you know, trying to keep talking to people who are theatre makers and different actors, playwrights, everything. And it’s always a matter of, you know, I think it’s important that we keep talking about it, even though for many of us, it’s not something we’re able to do right now. But then the work is continuing.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
That’s right. And I think that’s one of the exciting things that have come out of this moment is the amount of conversations that are happening like there’s so much So much dialogue. There’s so much needed dialogue about, you know, systemic changes that need to happen in our industry. There’s so much dialogue around sharing of artistic practice. You know, there’s just a lot of just free available dialogue, and workshops and panels. And I think that I have found that I’ve found those kinds of conversations and really, actually very, very theatrical because they’re so potent right now and they’re so necessary and they’re speaking directly. There’s no gap between what’s happening on the streets and what’s happening. On the stages you would hope in terms of the dialogue in terms of dialogue and, you know, usually we have, you know, we take forever to like, create a piece that then translates what’s, you know, what’s happening? In our society to the stage where right now it’s like, let’s just talk about it, let’s deal with it. How does this affect our industry and competitions feel a lot more urgent and potent and necessary and vital. And it’s almost like how we want our work to be is how the conversations have been alive, you know, so alive in the last couple of months.

Phil Rickaby
And they a lot of them are conversations that that wouldn’t be happening because everybody would be in the middle of the production grind.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Right?

Phil Rickaby
Yeah. So pause let’s that almost forces companies to be forced to contend with their systemic issues and their systemic racism and all of the things that they have in the past been able to sweep under the rug because they just don’t have time. Well, now they have time.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah. Yeah, it’s Yeah, it’s really, I mean, and talking is talking so we’ll see how it translates but it’s still It is still an essential part of the process, I think.

Phil Rickaby
Mm hmm. And I think there are a lot of people who are paying attention to those conversations though I’m seeing people who are both listening and also calling out organisations that are putting out milk toast and bland and non committal Black Lives Matter statements and trying to force them to, to say what they are doing and what they are going to do in a way that, like people are bolder than they normally would, because Ain’t nobody got some work to do. Like nobody know, you can’t audition for anybody right now. So it’s just like, just like holding to account and I think there are a lot of people who are are going to be watching when things start opening back up to see who lives up to the commitment they made and who doesn’t and they’re ready to, to call out and do something with for those who don’t.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yes, and and really, the pandemic has Show i mean i think that i mean i think that the pandemic and and truly like the events of the last few months and and George was marred has just made it that like it really what what do you have to lose by speaking up and like what do you really have to lose because because like this is like this is you know Can Can we can continue like this and so there’s just enough is enough enough is enough you know and and also like our industry has been so precarious and not protecting its artists hmm so it’s really like what do you have to lose you know, like just like if you if you want to work we all want to have a health industry we we have to take care of the people that are in inside of that industry. So so i think it’s it’s the tipping point of this moment is just crucial and it’s it’s the people being listened to in this moment. Hope people are listening to is definitely employments, you know, that the camera lens has shifted to, you know, to different voices.

Phil Rickaby
I’d like to switch gears a little bit because one of the things I’m always fascinated by is what when somebody makes a choice to pursue the theatre? What is what starts them on that path? What was their first exposure to theatre? What made them want to do it? So in essence mumbi What is your theatre origin story?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Oh, wow. Yeah. Theatre origin. Well, I mean, I will say on the various on the simplest level, I was, I’m a middle child. And so theatre arose for me as as like a place of fantasy. You know, nobody gets me. Nobody understands me kind of, you know, I’m in the middle of so It was kind of from a place of like, you know, creating alternate worlds as as a really young as a really young girl and and developed into I never knew that my life would be a thing that I would pursue eventually. But I mean I I first I actually first did not study theatre I studied biology. And then but I was always I was always doing theatre. Out of outside of outside of as an extracurricular it was just really hard for me to decide whether or not to to proceed to your own university as a profession and the main dream My first degree, so I think, as I was always doing theatre, and when I was in my second year at U of T, studying human biology, I was in a production of the course. crucible by Arthur Miller is playing tuba. And I was and at that point I had been auditioning for what my first two years for extracurricular kind of roles and not finding a lot of opportunities to, to get a catamaran, it’s a tuber came up and it’s like, yeah, you cast. I don’t even know how many other Black got the gig. I was like, great. And during that process, I was like, we had the opportunity to observe the makings of theatre at that point. I mean, Hartnell is a big deal. And I was, you know, a student there, as I was got to observe a bit of it. And I started thinking about directing. I was, you know, that directing as a possibility as like, maybe I could do that and maybe that’s something I could do. And maybe that’s something I could do and provide more opportunities for people who look like me. And so I after the production closed, I spent a lot of time in the library reading a tonne of plays by African African American a few Canadian writers I read so many plays i don’t know i remember how I had time Mike and I ended up coming across a play for colour girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enough by interlocking shine gay. And I went and I pitched the play to Paul template who was a manager, hothouse he and I said I want to direct this piece. And he took a chance on me and said yes. And it was he was like, first of all, like you have zero experience Why should be directed and I and I convinced him somehow and he said yes. And that was like a huge opportunity for me. And once I did that, I was kind of like let me get this degree done. I you know, let me switch gears I was finally in the back of my mind of like the seat Like, perhaps maybe I could continue to pursue this, you know, professionally and so. So that’s that’s kind of what how my journey kind of came in that came towards, towards being interested in directing and towards thinking about it professionally and I finished a U of T spend some time travelling, doing other things and then decided to go back to New York for theatre and then, you know, then continued on from there.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah. Now, you mentioned that you were doing theatre while you were, you know, studying biology and things like that. But what, when did that start for you? What was your first exposure? Did you first see a play or were you in a play first and how did you start performing?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
I was to do I was poetry recitals when I was a kid. So that was like

that will be poetry. competitions

in elementary school I was I was born in Kenya. And we would have Yeah, we would have poetry like school competitions for that. And there’ll be very performative. And so I would put those, I would do those. And, and and then after that I, I think I just I don’t remember the first play I saw, but I just kind of in high school as well just was, was part of the, you know, school productions.

Yeah, I don’t know if that was the first profession. I can’t remember the first professional production that I actually saw. Hmm, yeah.

Phil Rickaby
I did whatever it was, or whoever got you in there. You were it must. It had an impact. Yeah.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah. I mean, it was definitely not a direct direct direct route. It wasn’t like I mentioned Mirvish also. I mean, I was I was always seeing I was always seeing I was always making it was in different Throughout elementary school and throughout, and I would put on productions on my church, my school, so it was always, always I can’t imagine remember a time when theatre was now part of my life I guess I was just a switch to like pursue it professionally. That was I remember that clearly is like a when that moment happened Hmm

Phil Rickaby
It’s interesting because there for me, I’ve talked to people who they remember this show that they saw that that made them want to do it. And there are other people who they’re like, I don’t know, I was always putting on place.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s me. I’m in that category. Yeah, I’m sure I saw a lot you know, he’s just it was always in my vicinity vicinity.

You know, so I don’t know.

Phil Rickaby
But you you mentioned that moment when you decided that you’re going to do it professionally was there ever because some people you They do it as a hobby, and they just continue doing it and other people start to say to themselves, I could do this and make a career doing this. Do you remember like the moment when you when you were you made the decision that this was going to be your career path? And did you have to break that news to your parents?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah, I think that I think it was after that process that I made that decision in my in my in my heart, but I didn’t fully articulate wasn’t able to fully articulate it until a few years later when I was saying I wanted to go back to school for theatre. So yeah, I mean, the conversations with my parents about me being a theatre artists were always ongoing because I was, I was always out when I was when I had come to Toronto to do study human biology. I was kind of had considered a double major at that point and And I remember my first year roommates, I was like, we’re all theatre students. And I was still like, oh, maybe so it was it was always a thing that I, that I was thinking about all the time. It was just a question of, like, just to go a long time to fully articulate exactly, that it was gonna be directing versus, you know, acting or versus, you know, writing like to and so, and yeah, I think and of course, my parents always encouraged that does not get in like human biology, but they were like, That sounds good. Yeah. That sounds great.

And now after, you know, grinding for how many years I’m like, I totally should have listened to you.

You were so right mom and dad was like,

and I think there was a stubbornness has kept me here because, you know, they give me so much practical advice, and I was stubbornly carved out this pad for myself. And I think the stubbornness has kept me here.

Phil Rickaby
I think a lot of people who are theatre artists, they have a stubborn streak. They see there they see, you know, other people who are other giving up or they never went into it and they have, you know, jobs and and and some of them have houses and yeah, a certain point. You’re like, you get a point and you’re like, Okay, I keep doing this or maybe a house would be nice. Yeah,

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
totally, totally. And I still I’ve still had that I you know, I still have that. And I think also because having pursue something else first and had a job, I hadn’t like a job for one solid year out of university where I could afford to fly my friends and to come visit me and you know, I had never happened since I made the switch to be a profession. But it was like, Oh, you know, that’s nice that those were those were nice days, but not I mean too deep, I guess is the point. I’m in too deep.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, I guess on the on another point, you know, I always remember in theatre school they were always like, if you can do anything else and be happy do Yeah, I know. And and I guess for those of for those who stay in it, it’s like you You look at other things you’re like, could I be an accountant? Could I be a bank? Like all these other things you’re looking at? Like, would I be happy doing

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
that? Probably you probably.

At this point, I would say yes, you probably.

I mean, we’ve gone through a pandemic, we’re learning digital technology we are we are pivoting into new, new whatever it is. We could I mean, we can do anything anyone can, it can be happy.

Phil Rickaby
I do think that digital does present some very fascinating potential for the future. When this is all over. Like here. We’re all going to have these skills that we learned in when we had to And but are there opportunities for us in terms of doing live performance, but also doing something with a digital streaming option on this as well? Is that something that we that is allows us to reach a bigger audience? An audio wider audience that did couldn’t have come to see us before?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Totally. And I think that I mean, the big one asked question right now with digital platforms, as exciting as the owners as as much as they’re keeping everybody engaged, and so you’re not making any money

from hills. So is the Yeah.

So until we solve that problem, I don’t know that this can be a future model in any capacity. But

Phil Rickaby
I don’t I think that that, you know, there was a almost a mistake at the beginning where artists were like, well, we have to give it away obviously. And now there’s an expectation that if the if There’s a theatrical live stream that it’s going to be free. But I think in the future, if it’s like a, you know, live, is it, maybe there’s like a live stream from the theatre, and you pay this much if you’re in the theatre, but you could pay a lower amount to watch the stream. Yes, we’d love you to come in. But if you can’t, you know, there’s this, you know, I think, and I agree, though, that the the free model is obviously unsustainable.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah. Yeah. It’s it may be that maybe it’s the kind of model that is going to be that, that will, that will we’ll find a new model to do it. Yeah. And I’m sure we will. I think it’s been a big conversation about about, I mean, even the next season, how, how much of a hybrid they will need to be is, is definitely a quote, I’m sure it’s something that a lot of people are thinking about.

Phil Rickaby
I mean, I work my day job is puts me in the events industry and events, live events, conferences, things like that. those are those are digital and for now and people are actually still talking about hybrid events moving forward for the next nine years.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Wow. See, that’s that’s that makes a lot of sense. That actually it makes a tonne of sense and and and and it’s whether or not it will make life theatre even more alive events even more elitist, though Well, it’s the

Phil Rickaby
it’s it’s sort of the the idea I think for for live for, you know, going to conferences and things like that, that like yes, you can go and pay this much. And you can watch the live stream and pay this much and, and maybe for some people that will be they will get what they need out of the live stream. And I think for the you know, there are people are also thinking not just in terms of how much it cost but also that you know, for a while after, this is all over travel We’ll be more expensive staying at hotels will be more expensive. So the the hybrid live event is going to be with us for a while. It may be who knows who knows what it means for the theatre as well?

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah. And and what’s the incentive to go live? You can watch it at home. That’s also what I wonder.

Phil Rickaby
I mean, that’s always the thing is that is that and I was talking with, with AB Smith a couple of weeks ago, about about live events and how live streaming and video is not theatre. And we can’t pretend that it is. But can it augment theatre? Is there? Have we been looking at it in the wrong way? Like what we do on zoom or whatever is not theatre, but what can we do? There’s so many questions.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
There’s so many questions because you know, when we think about even cinema, that that how many I mean, how often do we go to the movie theatres now to watch how that collective experience of watching a movie with very specific films that you’re like, I need to go to the theatre for that otherwise, you know, you can just watch it at home. So, I mean, it’s it’s a question of, you know, why not? I was in a workshop and we’re talking about strategic foresight and trying to imagine different futures and it’s a question, one of the questions that came up was whether spectacle would be more important moving forward, you know, in terms of live performance, I mean, it’s like, you know, you’re going to the, it’s like, going to the movies to watch, you know, all the, you know, sci fi movies or all all of that, but you’ll stay home to watch the more intimate, you know, so it’s, it’s a really, really kind of a scary idea to think about what that does that art is sure to, you know, like spectacle is what do you think about like beyond the concerts and, you know, like, you have to put on a beyond concert to make people come out to see your show, basically. Yeah, it’s I mean, are a lot more a lot more interesting, very intimate experiences, which are then have to be super exclusive to be affordable. Anyways, lots of lots of

lots of possibilities.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, there are lots of possibilities and lots of questions. And we’re not going to be answering those questions anytime soon, I’m afraid but they are. I think, really. There they are ongoing questions. Mumby as we start to wind down one of the questions that I’ve been asking since the the pandemic started of all the people who have come on the podcast is and I think it’s an important question, something that we all need to think about is is what is what is giving you joy in all of this time. So over the last few months, what’s been what what thing or things have given you joy.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Mm hmm. I mean, I get a lot of joys from from from my children I have two two little kids at home but I’ve had a lot of time to spend with that I didn’t have before you know, before this window makes like I was in the non stop in the non stop nature of you know, working in a theatre. Yeah, just having time to slow down and spend time with them and, and my partner has been really just quiet joy like it’s been quiet joy and that’s that’s been really great. And you know, there’s like, you know, beyond the release of the visual album Black is king that’s giving me lots of joy. There’s a lot of stuff. I’m watching a lot of TV you and I Can when I have any downtime that I’m like, Oh, this is great. But Black is king being able to watch Hamilton. Three minutes from my room that was really awesome. So So this Yeah, this definitely Yeah, those things are making me happy is happy right now.

Phil Rickaby
That’s great. I think for me like I you know watching Hamilton on Disney plus and getting the chance to see that that cast as as wonderful as that was, it did make me miss the theatre a lot.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Ah ha ha. Well, I thought I couldn’t afford to go and I couldn’t even get a ticket to to go to the to it when it was here. So I felt like I lucked out.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, I think I think a lot of people. I think a lot of people did.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Yeah. So I mean, it’s kind of now like I would still it doesn’t make me feel like I like if I had the opportunity to see it. I still would I would still I would Wouldn’t this doesn’t make it makes me want to see it more without feel like I wasn’t going to know like, you know, because before I was it was gonna be something I was never gonna have a chance to see. Yes sir. Yeah, ever and I was gonna have to live with that for the rest of my life.

Phil Rickaby
But now Now you’ve been able to see it so that’s Yeah,

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
exactly. Yeah, so I feel really lucky to know like, Oh my god, I’m so lucky. I got to see a

Phil Rickaby
movie. Thank you so much for talking with me today.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Oh, it was my pleasure. I thank you for having me on here.