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Kenya National Theatre swarming with con artists

Quit or you’ll be made to face the law, fraudsters using the Kenya National Theatre grounds to fleece aspiring artistes have been told.

A number of upcoming artistes have complained of exploitation from con artists, who pose as professionals seeking auditions, even pinning adverts on the theatre’s notice board.

Posting an advert on the notice board goes for Sh250 a week; while renting space at the theatre may cost as little as Sh500.

Kenya National Theatre director Aghan Odero has advised upcoming artistes to be inquisitive about the background of the auditioners.  “It is not possible for theatre management to micro-manage what everyone is doing on the grounds, thus everyone must remain extra vigilant,” he said.

He noted the theatre had imposed a ban on posters asking for registration fee from the artistes after realising that con men were making a kill from it.

Mr Anthony Kirima fell victim to such con auditioners after reading an advert asking for talented artistes for an ‘international film’.

On the day of auditioning,  Mr Kirima said, 80 people turned up at the National Theatre where the auditioners demanded Sh500 registration fee from each, before taking them to Meridian Hotel for a movie shoot.

“They bought us lunch there and after the shoot took us to their offices in South B, where we were split into groups of five,” said Kirima.

The 16 groups were assigned a trainer each to accompany them to various parts of the country and Kirima’s group went to Kiambu.

“Each group member was then compelled to part with Sh200 to facilitate transport costs for the trainer,” he said, adding that the trainer purported to have worked for CNN.

After shooting, they were  required to pay a further Sh250 to get copies of CD recordings. After returning to Nairobi, the auditioners promised to keep in touch.

“We were called after a week and asked to report to their South B offices, but we were dismayed to find strangers conducting a different business altogether,” he said.

Karimi lost almost Sh1,000 which he had borrowed from friends. Other artistes have similar stories.

His story is similar to that of Sam Mokabi who lost Sh2000 to fraudsters posing as people auditioning for a Hollywood film.

A security guard at the National Theatre said it is almost impossible to detect fraudsters since they are well groomed and have the necessary movie recording equipment.

A security guard at the National theatre said it is almost impossible to detect the fraudsters since they are well groomed and well equipped.

“Besides, theatre officials do not come scrutinizing training sessions to establish the real from the fake. After payment of the hall fee, auditioners can do as the please,” said the guard.