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Kenya National Theatre glows after major facelift

Theatre and art enthusiasts have a reason to smile after a refurbished Kenya National Theatre (KNT) opened its doors once again.

The development, done under the Kenya@50 Legacy Projects initiative and funded by East Africa Breweries Limited to the tune of Sh100 million has seen the facility upgrade its auditorium, sound and lighting system and key amenities such as washrooms and changing rooms.

Kenya Cultural Centre director Aghan Odero Agan describes the refurbishment as elaborate.

“What we have in there is lighting equipment and sound fittings specifically designed for that space, new seats, fully carpeted auditorium and new draperies for the stage.


“We had a refurbishment of the orchestra pit which is in the basement, but forms part of the stage. All the changing rooms of the performers were redone and redesigned,” explained said Mr Agan.

The initially run-down dance studio has been repaired, the floor redone, while the balancing bars and mirrors used by the dancers have been fitted anew.

Wasanii Restaurant and Bar, located within the building, has been redesigned and renovated.

There is a new padding on the restaurant walls to cushion clients from the noise in the auditorium. The balcony, too, has been fitted with new seats and new padding.

To ensure activities at the theatre run interrupted incase of a power blackout, a stand-by generator has been installed to ensure lights remain on.

Initially, the theatre was served by a looped line from the transformer located within the neighbouring University of Nairobi.


“However, because of the new equipment and demand for a certain level of power supply, we had to have a new transformer installed” said Mr Agan.

A 49,000 litre water tank has also been installed to ensure taps in the facility do not run dry for two weeks continuously.

There are subtle changes in detail. For instance, the capacity has been reduced from 430 to 365 seats. But the bright-red velvet seats are now more comfortable and bigger.

“Since we were dealing with the same space capacity without any extension, we have been able to have newer, larger seats with more leg room. This has eaten into space but the theatre can now host large scale productions in Nairobi,” Mr Agan added.