ISOKO Theatre - Rwanda


Isoko Theatre uses contemporary theatre to contribute to civil society, social development, and creative economy in Rwanda. ISÔKO is founded in the spirit of inter-cultural exchange, to celebrate Rwandan artists, and to further the work of global peace building while promoting equality for women and girls. It is Rwanda's fourth theatre company.

Its first production, Toronto playwright Colleen Wagner's award-winning The Monument, opened in the native language of Kinyarwanda on July 4, Rwanda's Liberation Day. The theatre's blog, documents the ensemble cast and performances of their new play.

The word “isoko” has two meanings in Kinyarwanda: “the source,” suggesting creative renewal, stories and theatre, and “the market,” highlighting the company's efforts to help build a creative economy and spur development.

Founder and Director, Jennifer Herszman Capraru, believes in the theatre's power to speed reconciliation and healing in Rwanda. She was also moved by life in a culture that, outside its strong history of traditional African performance, has little modern music, few books, and proper cinemas.

Her prior work as the script supervisor on Shake Hands with the Devil, the film adaptation of Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire's memoir of the genocide, led her to Rwanda in 2006. She spent two months traveling Rwanda with the film crew and was later invited back to teach workshops at the Rwanda Cinema Centre.

Official government declares that there are no longer Hutu or Tutsi, only Rwandans. However, with physical scars from machetes still visible everywhere, and emotional scars, in many cases, still more raw, Capraru thinks mending the lingering ethnic rift is a particularly urgent task in Rwanda.

“It's like Holocaust survivors and Nazis living side by side and buying bread at each other's shops and going to the post office and seeing each other every day,” she said.