Puppet training and performance company. Kenya Institute of Puppet Theatre (KIPT) is a Nairobi-based non-profit community based theatre institute which trains and promotes puppetry as a Participatory Education Theatre (PET) practice to promote health, socio-economic advancement, good governance, and environmental conservation in local communities. The Institute grew out of the 1993 puppetry initiative launched by Eric Krystall of Family Programmes Promotion Services (FPPS), formerly Family Planning Private Sector (FPPS). With the Help of African Research Education Puppetry Programme (AREPP) headed by Gary Friedman, the South Africa based puppetry company trained the first puppeteers in Kenya in 1993. Friedman has since shifted to Australia.
Community Health Awareness Puppeteers (CHAPS) Programme was the first outcome of the puppetry training conducted by AREPP in 1993 and 1994. The first trained Kenyan puppeteers trained by AREPP participated in the African Puppet Festival in Johannesburg (1995). They developed anti-corruption shows that were performed in Durban, South Africa (1998) and The Hague (Global Forum to Combat Corruption, 2001).
Since then CHAPS has developed a network of 400 trained puppeteers in 40 communities addressing HIV/AIDS awareness, reproductive health, family planning, STDs, female genital mutilation, sexuality, drug abuse, civic education, and environmental issues. Performances by community members trained by CHAPS/KIPT are held in schools, churches, community centres, markets, and other public venues. The performances adopt a participatory approach by which a narrator promotes dialogue between the puppet and audience.
The CHAPS groups/KIPT have collaborated with groups from Finland, the Netherlands and the United States, Denmark, South Africa, Uganda, Liberia, Somalia, Tanzania as well as with Gary Friedman. CHAPS/KIPT members have collaborated with UNILIVER East Africa to promote products and with Mbuni/Buni Company to produce comedy and political satire for television.
In 2002, CHAPS launched the first bi-annual international puppetry festival, dubbed Edupuppet, in East and Central Africa. The Edupuppet festival was also held in 2004. In 2006, the festival name was changed to Kenya International Puppetry (KIP) Festival. Due to post election violence in 2007/2008, the festival was not held. In 2010, the KIP Festival was more modest due to funding limitations.
The 2006 KIP Festival and the need to professionalize puppetry in Kenya led to the founding of Kenya Institute of Puppet Theatre (KIPT) to develop the art with firmer academic and professional training. KIPT aims at promoting puppetry, folk media and educational theatre for promoting life skills, community and cultural education. Phylemon Odhiambo Okoth is the artistic director of KIPT and Anthony Mboyo the chief puppetry trainer. KIPT is located in the Mukuru slums of Nairobi where it undertakes training, curriculum development, and evaluative research. Major projects have, for example, dealt with issues of the deaf in Kenya (training ten deaf puppeteers), the rights of the blind in Eitea (2005), and leprosy awareness in Nigeria (2009). The group has conducted workshops in Nigeria (2009), Uganda (2008), Sudan (2005), Somalia (2004), as well as in Kenya.
- “Community Health and Awareness Puppets”. http://www.fpps-puppets.org/fpps- index.htm. Accessed 11 July 2013.
- Friedman, Gary. “African Puppetry Series – CHAPS, Kenya” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOeBQ0Fypyo. Accessed 10 July 2013.
- “Kenya Institute of Puppet Theatre”. http://kiptkenya.org/?page_id=10. Accessed 17 July 2013.
- Riccio, Thomas. “Kenya’s Community Health Awareness Puppeteers”. Performing Arts Journal. Vol. 76, No. 1. January 2004, pp. 1-12. http://www.deadwhitezombies.com/thomasriccio.com/Kenya.html. Accessed 17 July 2013.