Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin Memorial Prize launched
A new prize named after the acclaimed Ethiopian playwright and poet Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin was launched in Addis at the National Theater on Monday, September 7. Established by the playwright’s family members and friends, the Institute of the Language Studies of Addis Ababa University Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin Memorial Prize is intended to encourage literature and theater arts students to study hard, pursue senior honors and contribute to the art world.
The prize intended to be an annual event would be given to the best contribution by a student member. Berhanu Asfaw from the Department of Ethiopian Languages and Literature and Tegegnto Sinshaw from the Theaters Arts Department were winners of the first prize. Certificates were handed to the winners by Institute of Language Studies Dean, Dr. Gessese Tadesse and chair of the Theater Arts Department, Belayneh Abune, who both talked about the contribution and legacy of Tsegaye to each of their respective departments. Belayneh talked about Tsegaye’s contribution to the theater arts department
Dr. Gessese talked about the plan to broaden up the Memorial Prize through administrating trust funds that, among others, would provide scholarships to students.
As way of remembering one of the country’s greatest poets and playwrights, a group of volunteers led by Dr. Heran Serke-Berhan had begun a permanent annual Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin Theater Festival. Involving Abate Mekuria who previously produced and directed ten of Tsegaye’s productions in Ethiopia and abroad, excerpts of the playwright’s works, Ha Hu Besedest Wer (ABC in Six Months), Inat Alem Tenu, “Othello” and “Theodros” were presented on the occasion as part of the festival celebrations.
Abate who in his younger years studied at London’s Opera House has produced numerous stage plays, including “Kitet Wede Adwa Zemecha” which required the participation of 4,000 people.
Audiences were thrilled with his re-productions of Tsegaye’s plays for which he spent no less than three months. His studio, Mekuaria Studio designed the settings and provided the costumes. It was highly successful. Tadesse Mesfin’s illustration for one of the plays was found and used for the occasion.
On the occasion it was also announced that four of Tsegaye’s plays, Theodros, Petros Yachin Seat, Zeray Be Rome Adeababy and Minilik (a historical play about King Menelik that was never staged) would be published by the Addis Ababa University Press shortly. The announcement was greeted warmly.
Tsegaye was born in Boda, a village near Ambo, on 1934.He wrote his first play at Ambo Elementary School where one of his audiences were Emperor Haile Sellassie. After doing high school at Wingate and college at the Addis Ababa Commercial College, he has studied theatre at the Royal Court Theater in London and Comédie Française in Paris for two years. Exploring elements of power, justice, love, and death in his tragedies, Tsegaye achieved widespread and lasting recognition for his work.