Interview with Kalungi Ssebandeke

Kalungi Ssebandeke’s short play, Prodigal, features as part of Orange Tree Theatre’s Inside/Outside, a collection of plays by six emerging and established writers, performed and livestreamed from the theatre’s auditorium. I caught up with Kalungi to find out more.

Can you tell me about Prodigal?
Prodigal is a short play about two estranged siblings who are forced to confront their
troubled relationship after the death of their mother.

What was the inspiration behind the play?
I was inspired by Guy Jones’ provocation OUTSIDE. I then found myself in The Netherlands
over the Xmas Break of 2020 where I started to ponder the question; what if I didn’t go back
home to the UK? From here more questions arose and voila Prodigal was born. I’m also
inspired by moments in my own life where I have felt like an outsider in my family and the
power of that family can have when it comes to helping create and repair any feelings of
otherness.

What can audiences expect?
From my piece, Audiences can expect, honest, raw and relatable emotions and ideas rooted
in personal experiences. They can expect wonderful performances from Fiston Barek and
Robinah Kironde who play estranged siblings; they can expect fantastic direction from
Georgia Green with a wonderful soundscape from Max Pappenheim with an original song
from yours truly. And not to mention the other incredible creatives from the lighting to the
movement. It really will be a brilliant night at the theatre all in the comfort of your own
home.

How do you feel about seeing Prodigal performed on stage?
I am excited and nervous at the same time because I’ve had to be vulnerable in my writing in
a way that I have yet to do so. But it fills me with joy to be able to bring a short yet impactful
piece of writing for a great stage like Orange Tree.

What do you feel you’ve learned from writing the play?
I have learned that you needn’t search too far for inspiration when it comes to stories.
Sometimes the personal can be just as extraordinary as any Greek or grand Shakespearean
style piece of writing. I’m Ugandan born Londoner who has always felt like an outsider- that
is interesting material and I shouldn’t shy away from it.

What would you like Prodigal to achieve?
I would like for family and friends who haven’t spoken to come together even if it’s just for a
phone call or a text. But as long as it leaves audiences feeling grateful of their family then I
have done my job.

To book tickets visit https://orangetreetheatre.co.uk

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