Geoffrey Oryema left Uganda 30 years ago, and has ever since been living in Paris, FRANCE, his country of citizenship.He was one of the pioneers of “Theatre Limited”, the first Academy of Dramatic Arts, and professional Theatre troupe of its’
Kind, in East and Central Africa, in the seventies.This school produced some of Ugandas’ best actors / artists / musicians, under the the direction of the famous playwright / actor, the late Robert Sserumaga.
Guest lecturers attached to the school, included David Rubadiri, Father Okello (Music, Dance & Drama Dept. of Makerere University), and foreign lecturers who visited the school periodically, for Workshop / Lecture sessions. Ugandan Traditional Music Masters (Evaristo Muyinda, Pantaleo Apire, etc..), full time members of the famous, and national dance troupe, “ The Heart Beat Of Africa”,
Were also part of the program, established by the Academy.
Geoffrey Oryema spent 5 years in this school, specialising in “Konstantin Stanislavskys’ ” (Famous Russian Poet & Playwright), and Grotoskys’ methods
Of acting, where controled improvisation played a key role.
The school was financed by foreign, and local funds; the first troupe went into residency in autumn 1971, at the National Theatre, which quickly became its functioning base, and under a separate agreement, used Makerere University facilities
For its’ theoretical work.
SOME KEY DATES :
1971 – 1st “ Third World Arts Festival ” in Manila, Philippines. Performed at the
newly built Theatre, founded by Philippines’ 1st Lady, Mrs. Imelda Marcos,
spouse of the then Philippine leader, President Ferdinand Marcos.
Special performance at the Malakanyang Presidential Palace, for foreign
Dignitaries invited for the opening of the festival.
1972 – BITEF (Belgrade International Theatre Festival), in Belgrade (ex Yugoslavia).
Other participants included playwright & choreographer, Peter Brook (with
The Shakespearean play “Midsummer Nights’ Dream”).Off festival music
guest star was “ Ray Charles “.
The Ugandan Professional Theatre Troupe presented “RENGA MOI “,
The famous play written by Robert Sserumaga, and co-written by
1973/4- Theatre engagements in Kingston Jamaica.Performed at the “ Little Theatre,“
in Kingston City. Michael Manley, (the Jamaican Prime Minister at the time),
and Jamaican film star, Calvin Lockhart, attended the performances.
1976 - Before leaving Uganda, Geoffrey Oryema, wrote a play entitled “ The Reign
of Terror “, which portrayed images of the atrocities Ugandans witnessed,
during “ The Idi Amin Era “.He formed, and trained a semi-professional
Theatre troupe which he named “ GONG GONG “.
The troupe was invited to perform at another BITEF, in Yugoslavia,
But due to the alarming situation in Uganda, and the serious political message
The play carried, Geoffrey was refused exit from the country.
1977 – Geoffrey Oryema escaped from Uganda, to Kenya, where he presented his
Play “ The Reign of Terror “, at the French Cultural Centre Nairobi, in march.
He left Nairobi, after this presentation, for his new home city,
In autumn of the same year, Geoffrey was hired as a musician/ singer, in a
Circus Company owned by Jean Batiste Thierry, and Victoria Chaplin,
Daughter, of the world famous Comedian, and Actor, Charley Chaplin
- He held a music workshop at the then “Theatre de Déchargeurs”,
in central Paris. He taught techniques of Lukeme (Thumb Piano) playing,
And Ugandan/African percussive traditional instruments.
Enrolled at the M.A.K (Mouvement Autonome de Karaté), a “ Marti
Al Arts School in Paris, specializing in “ SHOTOKAN ”, Japanese
Traditional Karate. Geoffrey Oryema is still an active member of
The school, directed by the same Karate Master/Teacher,
George Zsiga (7th DAN), former Captain of the 1972 French
National Karate Team.
Geoffrey obtained a “Karate Black Belt “ (1st DAN), in 1988.
As he puts it:
Any form of sports is essential, and inevitable for the mind and body;
This is one important aspect of Konstantin Stanislavski’s teachings:
“ An Actor /Artists’ body is his instrument on stage “, so for that reason,
and for a better performance, one must physically train to achieve this
1980/81 Geoffrey took a sabbatical year to study computer system operating, and
Programming (COBOL), for “Common Organisation Business Oriented
1982/86 - To pay his rent, and make a living in the expensive fashionable
And gastronomically “Parisian Jungle”, Geoffrey was employed
At “The International Herald Tribune” headquarters, in Paris,
As a computer system operator, on “ATEX”, a system designed
- In March of the same year, he was sent by The International
Herald Tribune for vocational training, at the “ ATEX PLANT ”,
- First contact with W.O.M.A.D (World Of Music Arts & Dance),
Real World Records, founded by Peter Gabriel (ex Genesis), and
World famous Human Rights Activist.
- In September, October, and November of the same year, Geoffrey
Oryema held “Experimental Music Workshops, in primary and
Secondary schools In the “Champagne Region” (TROYS), eastern
- It was during this period when he composed the song, which was later
To become the “Hit Single” (Yé Yé Yé), of his 1st album (Exile),
And the signature tune for the cultural talk show (Cercle de Minuit),
Midnight circle on the French national TV (France 2).
- Signed to Real World Records; Participated in W.O.M.A.D Festivals,
“Harbour Front” Toronto-Canada, Liverpool England, “BarcaWomad”
In Barcelona, Spain, W.o.m.a.d Senajoki, in Findland etc.
- Release of Geoffrey Oryemas’ 1st Album (Exile), produced by Brian
Eno (ex Roxy Music), world famous producer (U2, David Bowie)
The track Yé Yé Yé, was chosen by FRANCE 2
(National TV Channel), as signature tune for a cultural talk show,
(Le Cercle de Minuit).
The immediate success of the song (Yé Yé Yé), earned him a “Disque
D’or” (Gold Album).
- Invited by Peter Gabriel to participate in the “Mega Concert”,
For the “Liberation of Nelson Mandela”, at Wembley Stadium
(a crowd of 78,000 people).Meeting with Mandela, after the show.
Some of the world pop stars in the lineup included Johnny Clegg,
Neil Young, Simple Minds, Tracy Chapman, Neneh Sherry, Bruce
Springsteen, Chrissy Hynde, Patti Labelle, Térence Trent Darby etc.
Masters of ceremony for event, were, American film star Denzel
Washington, and English comedian, Lenny Henry.
1993 - Participation at the first W.O.M.A.D festival in The U.S.A
East west coast, New York and Boston. The lineup :
Peter Gabriel, Sinead O’Connor, Lenny Kravitz, Midnight Oil
(Australian Rock Band), Ayub Ogada (Kenyan Singer),
Crowded House (New Zealand Pop Band)etc..
Release of Geoffreys’ 2nd album (Beat The Border), produced
By Brian Eno (U2, David Bowie), and Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd-
“The Wall”, Alice Cooper.
W.O.M.A.D in Australia, Adelaide (Support act for Peter Gabriel),
The Sydney Opera House, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth.
1994 - Invitation by Jack Lang (former French Minister of Culture),
For the annual meeting/discussion/Lunch, with Various Artists.
1995 - Started composing with 2 other French artists (Manu Katché, and
Tonton David), the original track for the French film ”UN INDIEN
DANS LA VILLE”, with French film stars, Thiérry L’Hérmitte,
Patrick Timsitt, Miou Miou, Arielle Dombasle, Jackie Beroyer…
Recordings for Geoffreys’ 3rd album, (Night to Night)
In December of the same year, release of the the film
“ UN INDIEN DANS LA VILLE”.
1996 - Release of the album “Night to Night” (RealWorld/Virgin Records
Geoffrey won a ‘French Grammy’ (VICTOIRE DE LA MUSIQUE,
In France), as author/composer for the “ Best Music for Film “- UN
INDIEN DANS LA VILLE. It had the best box office sales in
France that year.
2000 - Release of the 4th album (Spirit),(Sony),followed by a world tour.
Album produced by English producer Rupert Hine (Tina Turner,
Brand New Heavies).Chosen as Europes’ “No. 1 Album, in the
“World Music” category.
November 20th , of the same year, Geoffrey Oryemas’ “Mega
Concert” ( as Headliner), at “ The L’Olympia ” in Paris, and to
A “packed house.”
Geoffrey figured among the Nominees for the “Chevalier des Arts
Et Des Lettres”, (Legion of Honour), by the French Ministry of Culture.
2004 - Release of the 5th album (Words), (Next Music).
2005 - Invited for the “ 48 HOUR NON STOP CONCERTS”,
for the inauguration of “The Pratika Theatre”, in Moscow.
W.O.M.A.D Festival in Reading (U.K), and Sicily, with talented
French, guitarist, Oli Le Baron (Le Cercle, Guesh Patti, Téléphone,
2006 - March/April Collaboration, and musical exchange, with
Recordings of new material (DEMOS), for Geoffreys’ 6th Album,with world famous bass guitarist, Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Pink Floyd…..)
Performances at the “GOLDEN MASK FESTIVAL”, in Moscow.
Geoffrey invited the Ugandan Ambassador to Moscow, His
Excellency Mr. Ssekajja, and some members of the Ugandan
Community in Moscow.
LIVE 8 (AFRICA CALLING). Geoffrey performed in 2 Live 8
Venues, the first, in Cornwall (Eden Park), with Peter Gabriel as
Master of Ceremony; other performing artists included
Dido, Youssour N’dour…., and Angelina Jolie, as guest star.
The second performance was in Scotland (Edinbrough).
Lineup : Annie Lennox (Eurythmics), Travis, The Corrs, Bono (U2)
One Giant Leap, Youssour N’dour, James Brown….,
and Claudia Schiffer, among other guest stars.
BENEFIT CONCERTS :
1994 - Benefit concert for “Amnesty International”, in Boston USA.
This was to draw The International communitys’ attention,
Towards stopping “Child Slavery, and Torture”, in some 3rd World
Countries. The event was sponsored by “Reebok”.
Other participating artists and guests, included Peter Gabriel,
Michael Stipe (lead singer of the rock band R.E.M), Trudie
Styler (spouse of rock star, Sting, ex Police), President, and
Co-founder of “The Rain Forest Foundation.
1995 - Geoffrey was invited by Trudie Styler, to perform at
Carnegie Hall, in New-York.This was to raise funds
For “The Rain Forest Foundation”. Other performing
Artists included, Jon Bon Jovi, Jessie Norman, Bruce
Springsteen, Sting, James Taylor, Elton John, Paul Simon,
And Billy Joel.
Also the same year, perfomed for a fund raising concert,
In favour of “LES SANS PAPIERS” (People without Identification Papers ), and “LES SDF” (The Homeless, or People with no permanent addresses).
2001 - Live TV Perfomance for the “TELETHON”, to raise funds
for “ Scientific Research “ on “Genetically Transmitted Diseases”.
2007 - February, Geoffrey was invited as “A Guest Star”, to the “Berlin
International Film Festival “, for the Premier of a 90 minutes
Documentary film entitled “INVISIBLES”.This is a “Pinguin
Film “ production, for “MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES”
(“Doctors Without Borders”), in which they used several tracks
from Geoffreys’ albums, as soundtrack.
One of the documentaries is about “The Night Commuters”, in
Gulu, (Northern Uganda), filmed and directed by the Spanish
Film director, “Fernando Leon de Aranoa”, film director Wim
Wenders (among others), and produced by Spanish film
star, “Javier Bardem”.
2008 - Collaboration with Tiken Jah Fakoly
New Album to be completed
2009 Recorded From the Heart at Real World Produced by Alex Swift
Collaborated with One Giant Leap
2010: Geoffrey performs La Lettre at The United Nations for the Premiere of Children of Men.
1990 EXILE “ REALWORLD / VIRGIN ”
BEAT THE BORDER “ REALWORLD”/VIRGIN”
1996 NIGHT TO NIGHT “REALWORLD / VIRGIN”
2000 SPIRIT SONY MUSIC
2004 WORDS NEXT MUSIC
2009 RECORDED FROM THE HEART (TBR 2010) LONG TALE RECORDINGS
2010: FROM THE HEART RELEASED ON LONG TALE RECORDINGS