'Dancing our pain away'

HARARE - Former legislator Jessie Majome is surprised that while Nhimbe Trust’s theatre production Blood Tongue — The Musical is so dense and so painful; it is expressed with such beauty when on stage.

Majome was among personalities who attended the production’s showcase when it staged in the capital on August 31 and September 1, at the famous Reps Theatre in Belgravia.

Among those who attended were 2018 presidential candidate Nkosana Moyo; UZ lecturer Kelvin Chikonzo; National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Nicholas Moyo; and Zimbabwe’s first Education minister Faye Chung and her daughter, actress Chipo Chung.

Majome said she found the production absolutely “painfully” beautiful!

“I marvelled at the way that the subject matter, so dense and so painful, could be expressed with such beauty. And the dances; it seemed like they were dancing our pain away. It left you thinking. I thought it was absolutely brilliant, particularly with just the five cast members.

“I noted it was originally a 2017 production, and the alacrity with which the recent violence was blended in, was brilliant.

“This production was clearly developed before those things happened, but the whole production is a very astute directional sign about where we need to go as a nation, where we are coming from, where we are, where we want to get to.

“I hope it is enjoyed by more audiences, because it really does prick the conscience, to say ‘we need to do something, right those wrongs’. We need to ruminate.”

Chikonzo commented: “I enjoyed it being a musical, it raised the standard of performance, and the way it was able to integrate technology, the microphones and sound, was really commendable.

“That kind of show raises the standards of theatre; even the coordination, I appreciate the challenge of creating an ensemble of musicians, and I think that was quite good.

“I think that musicals are likely to attract a larger audience on the theatre market, and it’s a good style for strategic marketing.”

Reps Theatre manager Peter Smyth said: “It was so great to have your excellent production on our stage…we look forward to hosting you again soon. I like the simplicity of your set — this is how modern theatre should be presented. I want (others) to watch this and stop the obsession with complicated sets. Congratulations on such a superb production and we hope that it travels well in SA.”

The stirring musical has been staged at the Bulawayo Theatre, Masvingo’s Charles Austin Theatre, and the Artists Preserving Heritage Festival at the Emalahleni Civic Theatre, in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The production shone at the recent Bulawayo Arts Awards 2018, being nominated for the Outstanding Theatre Production award.

After Reps in Harare, the production will be staged at the Intwasa Festival koBulawayo at Bulawayo Theatre on September 26, and will return to South Africa in October for the Kwaguqa International Arts Festival.

Written by Chris Mlalazi and Josh Nyapimbi, the play was originally produced earlier in 2017 and promptly updated after the November events.

It explores leadership accountability, the manipulative excesses of the political elite, and the struggles faced by strong-willed women in present-day Zimbabwe.

The stirring musical spoke truth in a strong storyline, excellently delivered by a lean cast of gifted young thespians: Dalma Chiwereva, Agnes Ncube, Getrude Munhamo and Gift Chakuvinga, backed by 15 great musical compositions played by a five-piece band, led by Blessing “Stot” Sitotombe, who is also the music arranger.

Nhimbe’s main partner in its dynamic programmes Women in Theatre & Television (WiTT) and Children in Theatre & Television (CiTT) is Africalia, Belgium, whose motto is “Creativity is Life”.

The programmes have seen a number of excellent productions staged in Zimbabwe and beyond in the last few years. CiTT scooped awards at the recent Doug Hill Schools Drama Festival in Masvingo, and members of WiTT shone at the 2018 Bulawayo Arts Awards with several nominations and one award.

Blood Tongue – The Musical is also supported in partnership with the Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund.

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