Play reflects water crisis

HARARE - For those who love reading or took literature classes in school and loved it, Water Games is just the play for you.

Water Games is a play adapted from An Enemy of the People, a 1882 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.

The political satire looks at how politics interfere with the day-to-day running of local government systems as well as government business in general.

In the original play, Dr Stockmann, the lead actor discovers that the new baths built in his town are infected with a deadly disease and instructs the town to repair or close the baths.

The mayor, who is Dr Stockmann’s brother, does not believe the report and refuses to close the baths because it will cause the financial ruin of the town.

The local adaptation by Chris Mlalazi gives the play a local context. Directed by Leeroy Gono,the play premiered at the recent Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa).

Michael Kudakwashe acted as a doctor who leads the city health department and makes a horrifying discovery on the contamination of the city’s supply of drinking water. The doctor writes a report which he hopes will make Parliament urgently act on the issue.

The doctor’s young brother played by Tichaona Mutore happens to be the minister responsible for water.

There are now two issues at play, with the doctor deciding to expose the sewer pipe leakages to the public and his brother the minister trying to stop him.

The doctor, like most people in influential positions, has friends in the media. His friend, the editor of a popular weekly, played by Kudzai Sevenzo, is captivated by the story and decides to run it but after she is offered company shares in a mineral water business, the story does not see the light of day.

In attempting to silence the doctor by firing him from his job and adversely affecting his family and wife, also played by Kudzai Sevenzo, the play shows how politicians go to great lengths to silence critics and the truth.

Bringing the issue closer to home, the City of Harare’s water supply and quality has been a contentious  issue for decades. Residents and organisations have often complained of a “foul” smell coming from tap water.

However the city council in December 2014 insisted that the water was ‘safe’ to drink, which has left some wondering whether it is denial or sheer ignorance.

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