Updated: Apr 16
Joseph Obel (He/Him/They) (b. 1994) is an experimental theatre performer, voice actor, writer and emerging soundscape artist based between Nairobi and Kisumu in Kenya. Obel is also an independent theatre critic and his performance reviews are available on his blog, About Last Night. He is a graduate of BA, Theatre Arts and Film Studies from Kenyatta University in Kenya.
Obel is a former writer of The XYZ show, a satirical puppet TV series that highlights socio-political issues. Obel became a juror at World Monologue Games in 2020 and 2021, an online monologue competition based in Sidney, Australia.
As a curator, Obel served as the program manager for the Out of Africa International Film Festival in Nairobi, and the Motion Pictures International Film Festival headquartered in Lagos. He has also served as the co-producer at AfroIndaba arts collective based in Nairobi, Kenya where they use theatre and storytelling to highlight human rights and freedoms with an aim of ending social injustices against minority groups.
Obel did his first autobiographical one-hander experimental theatre performance in July 2022, a show that uses nudity to explore the politics and nuances of a queer person’s body. The show received production support from Zurcher Theatre Spektakel, Pro Helvetia, and Goethe Institut.
I am interested in exploring the conversation about the intersection of violence against queer individuals and the violence against rivers as the sources of water. In my country Kenya, I have witnessed many deaths of members of the LGBTQ+ community, some who die out of outright physical violence due to homophobia as a result of hate spread by the media, politicians and the so called religion and morality watch dogs. I have also witnessed the once fresh, nourishing rivers being choked to death by plastic waste, pesticides and other chemicals from homes and factories. I live next to a river which was was colorless but now as dark as charcoal, its waters reducing in quantity day by day. My once fresh river, though threatened, is still resilient as she jogs snakely day and night. As a queer person living in a homophobic country and environment, resilience is what keeps me going, despite the threat to my life and socio-economic wellbeing. My project is called Mto (River)