'Tellers, the Musical' mesmerises audience

HARARE - Independently of Hifa this year, the play Tellers, the Musical debuted in Harare on Friday, May 5, and exploded into life on the amphitheatre stage of Harare’s renowned art institution, Gallery Delta.

The high-energy play is a hard-hitting “dramedy” against the backdrop of a vivid music score covering many genres.

It cleverly depicts the socio–economic situation in Zimbabwe, and its effect on the lives and loves of ordinary people.

Deeply moving and at the same time witty and comical, the storyline flows smoothly from one scene to the next, and the English/Ndebele mix is easy to follow.

The production is musically sound with a tight delivery of everything from mbaqanga and Afropop to jazz, gospel, rap and the blues.

The quality of acting brought to mind world famous actors of the past who were more than just a pretty face, but also mastered the arts of acting, singing, dancing.

A bare, simple, even minimalist set design (five chairs and a small table) was transformed into a busy supermarket in the excellent delivery by the lively cast of young women as cashpoint “tellers”.

The audience seemed to be at first taken aback and then wholly-delighted by the quality of the whole performance, which earned a standing ovation.

Among the audience were deputy director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Nicholas Moyo, Rooftop Promotions and Theatre in the Park producer Daves Guzha, Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust, Nigel Munyati, Tanya Lubbers of Hivos (Netherlands) and Bjorn Maes of Africalia (Belgium), long-time supporters of the arts in Zimbabwe, and of this particular production.

Bjorn later said: “Last night and this Saturday night only at Gallery Delta at 7pm. If there’s one highlight this Hifa 2017 week then this is definitely one of them. I would like to thank the arts community of Bulawayo and Harare for bringing magical theatre from your collaboration. I’d say do not miss it.”

Moyo said: “A great production, professionally and beautifully done; the directing is unparalleled and raised the bar for local theatre!”

Munyati said: “Brilliant performance. I enjoyed the acting, music, and a well-scripted story. Next stop — film!”

The production is an adaptation of the play Women Without Husbands by Raisedon Baya, with music and direction by Bafana Dladla (SA) and produced by Josh Nyapimbi, and presented by Bulawayo NGO Nhimbe Trust in association with Rooftop Promotions in Harare.

Following social media after the event, Baya posted: “Ah great! That play is brilliant. Keep pushing it. Nothing like it has been done in Zimbabwe.”

The play introduced to Harare audiences fresh new talent from the Women in Theatre and Television project by Nhimbe Trust.

The cast included Noma Damasane (a.k.a. Lady Tshawe), Donna Ncube, Memory Mguni, Loisianna Charumbira, Delicacy Ngulube, Sharlene Ndlovu, Melaine Moyo, Lyndah Sithole and Angel Mpofu. The band behind the scenes featured Marvellous “CJ” Tshuma (guitars), Blessing Sitotombe (bass), Mehluli “Gomez” Dube (percussion) and Raphael Mapira (keys).

It was announced that cultural partners Nhimbe Trust and Bluez Café are in the process of establishing a creative hub for arts, right in the heart of Bulawayo, with official opening on Africa Day.

Tellers, the Musical was produced under “Women in Theatre & Television”, a project of Nhimbe Trust.

Musician Penny Yon — who is assisting in Bluez Cafe setup, said “What powerful women! They are actresses, but they are beautiful singers; they are singers; but they are lively dancers — It was amazing! Singing, dancing, looking good and delivering a powerful story — which moved me both to laughter and tears. I loved it.”

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