New play puts spotlight on 'Ben 10s' phenomenon

BULAWAYO - Hollywood popularised the phenomenon of older women dating and marrying younger men to the point of making it a fashion statement.

The most prominent case being in 2003 when Demi Moore ,41, and Ashton Kutcher ,25, began dating.

They were followed by the likes of Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry, Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon.

The young men dating or marrying mature women are now referred to in Zimbabwe and elsewhere as “Ben 10s” — after the animation character loved by young boys.

Germany-based Zimbabwean playwright and author   Christopher Mlalazi will bring the phenomenon to the theatre stage on Friday at the National Gallery Bulawayo with a play appropriately titled The Ben 10.

The play, directed by veteran actor-cum-director   Memory Kumbota, is made up of a cast of eight.

The Ben 10 revolves around a woman who falls in love and gets married to a younger man from the neighbourhood.

The mature woman assists her young husband to get a good university education even though she is not well-educated herself.

Then, suddenly, her business hits a spot of trouble and becomes bankrupt.

As she reels in bankruptcy, she is betrayed by her young husband.

The Ben 10 will premiere at the official launch of the monthly “Theatre for Everyone,” being spearheaded by  actress-cum-playwright Nonhlalo Dube’s ND Productions.

This will be launched in partnership with the National Gallery Bulawayo.

Dube has promised the infusion of new actors into plays that will run under the Theatre for Everyone programme.

“Whenever there is a play premiering, you see the same old faces. Of course their talent cannot be doubted but our plan is to bring new blood on board so that we can see what they are capable of doing if they are given a platform,” she said.

The ND Productions director, a former manager of the Women in Theatre (WIT), added though that they will not shut the door on established actors.

“Our objective is to build up a theatre audience, create and improve employment opportunities while also creating a marketable, sustainable and support-worthy theatre industry.

“We also want to re-brand the Bulawayo theatre scene by introducing fresh, original and entertaining theatre plays and activities throughout the year,” she said.

The Theatre for Everyone plays will be showcased every last Friday of the month.

According to Dube, every month they will carry out auditions for the play of that month.

Already about five plays have been accepted for the programme being supported by Alliance Française and Leaders of Africa Network.

The selected plays include Utikolotshe written by Nonhlalo Dube and directed by Styx Mhlanga, It’s not gold written by Khali S and directed by Thembelihle Moyo, Indigo written and directed by Lewis Phiri as well as Umupho written and directed by Vincent Ngwenya.

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