Sheila Barker

Years active in NCP

1964 – 1978

Taking part in Nairobi City Players productions in the 1960s and 1970s


Ah ….. The excitement of First Night!

After all those weeks of rehersals the time eventually arrived …. First Night!  Jitters before hand, and then jubilation that everything went well.  Happy audience, happy director, anticipation of good reviews and full houses for the entire run.

As a dancer I only took part in musicals – the big shows – which were always fabulous.  Some lead roles were played by professionals, but most of the cast were usually enthusiastic and talented amateurs, who under the coaching of professional directors, musical directors and choreographers, reached a high standard of performance.

And those costumes!  Mary Epsom and her team of hard working  helpers produced costumes which could have graced any West End production.  The stage crews likewise did a splendid job on scenery, lighting and staging.

The half dozen or so NCP shows in which I took part started with the first Oklahoma in 1964, and ended with the second Oklahoma in 1978.  Mary Epsom, with an eye for economy, was pleased that I could re-use my same costumes second time around!

I loved those years of NCP shows:  the comraderie, occasional tantrums and jealousy, elation at progress, frustration when things went wrong — in fact witnessing all human emotion.  But then came the real pleasure of being part of a successful production, as all NCP productions inevitably were.  The quality of the shows was extraordinarily high.  The audiences of Nairobi were extremely fortunate to be able to enjoy these wonderful productions at the National Theatre year after year.

Looking back half a century later at the programmes of the shows I was in, has been a seriously nostalgic experience – such wonderful memories of so much fun and laughter.


Sheila Barker