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Actors Thokozani Kapiri, Mbene Mbunga Mwambene team up

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After master’s studies in theatre in Switzerland, actor Thokozani Kapiri has teamed up with Mbene Mbunga Mwambene, who is also pursuing theatre studies in Switzerland, to come out with a play titled The Island.

The play will be staged at Madsoc Theatre in Lilongwe on March 10.

“It‘s been almost five years during which the outfit Migrant Works ( now renamed Migrant Arts) was grounded, combining European theatre makers and Malawian ones in various projects in Europe,“ Kapiri said.

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He said it has always been their dream to make their presence in Malawi strongly felt and that this was the time to do it.

Kapiri said The Island production has emerged as a reflection of what him and Mbene consider to be some personal migrant experiences in Switzerland .

“We play with the idea of pressure of life in Europe for those of us from another continent. With its rules and migration laws, ,Europe can sometimes be challenging but also a place of opportunity,“ Kapiri said.

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He added:

“There are things one must fulfill in order to fit in. For artists like us, it can feel like an island, isolated from home, prison-like, but at the same time, economically and intellectually empowering.“

He said, based on such reflections, they picked this script where the rules demand they perform antigone when what they want to share on stage are Malawian or African stories, so to speak.

Kapiri said this re-invention of The Island, though originally written by South African playwright Athol Fugard, is quite personal to them .

He said this time, one sees two disillusioned black men , John and Winston, who must perform antigone before a privileged audience, as the original story is uprooted from its historical apartheid context and replayed as a staged real-time happening.

Kapiri and Mbene, who are all pursuing master’s degrees in theatre directing at Zurich University of Arts and Bern University of Arts respectively, have co-directed and played in the production.

Kapiri said his relationship with Mbene in theatre dates back to their Nanzikambe Arts days when they produced, among other plays, the political satire The Story of Tiger by Dario Fo.

“We have been sharing personal life experiences and artistic spaces both as home boys but also in the foreign land through our theatre journeys . The respect and aesthetic connection is mutual,“ he said.

From Lilongwe, Kapiri said the play will also be staged in other places such as HS Winehouse in Blantyre , Chancellor College in Zomba and Mzuzu University.

Kapiri also said that Migrant Arts has officially registered in the country, signing in with this play.

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