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‘Bakili Muluzi’s play comes to the stage

Blantyre-based Young Travellers Theatre is set to stage a play titled Bakili’s Wit that tells the story of the country’s former head of state Bakili Muluzi.

The group which has had a number of performances will stage the play this coming Saturday at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre.

Young Travellers Theatre has adapted the play from dramatist Smith Likongwe’s Bakili’s Wit which is part of his book Living Playscripts: A Trilogy (Bakili’s Wit, The Tragedy of Bingu and Amai’s Turn).

“We are doing final touches and we should be ready come January 25. It is our duty as artists to safeguard and keep the history of our leaders and that why we adapted this play.

It is not about Macbeth or other European kings but we need to act our own. Bakili Muluzi’s story is the one that the country cannot do without,” the group’s playwright and director, Imran Shaban, said yesterday.

He said they sought permission from Likongwe to stage the play which he indicated has a cast of 18.

“Smith Likongwe is one of the dramatists I have always looked up and we are happy he gave us a go ahead to adapt his play,” Shaban said.

Likongwe, who is a drama lecturer at University of Malawi – Chancellor College in Zomba, said yesterday Young Travellers Theatre contacted him and that he gave them a go ahead.

Bakili’s Wit is the first in the Trilogy. The reason for them in staging the play is to continue with showcasing the legacies of our leaders. I am happy because the young people have really come out and they have done good research. Last week it was YDC Theatre staging Operation Mandala 1915 and now we have Bakili’s Wit,” Likongwe said.

He said there will also be a production of Kamuzu Banda around Kamuzu Day and that the Tragedy of Bingu will follow.

Apart from Living Playwrights: A Trilogy (Bakili’s Wit, The Tragedy of Bingu and Amai’s Turn), Likongwe has published other plays such as Kamuzu Banda and Other Plays, Southern African Plays Collection and The Chief’s Blanket and Other Plays.

“I felt good because the scripts are living and through performances the lives and legacies of our leaders need to be exposed and reviewed. Not everybody reads books, so, to reach out to a larger audience, it is a good idea to give performances. And for those, who have read, a live performance will enhance their imagination and visualisation,” the veteran dramatist, who has stitched several productions said.

He said the play is a personal history of Bakili, starting with his work at Msinja Court in Lilongwe in 1968.

“Then it takes us through his rise at Nasawa Technical College and his schooling abroad. Then his appointment as Member of Parliament of Kasupe to his rise as Secretary General of Malawi Congress Party to his fight for multiparty democracy. All his policies and how they still affect us,” Likongwe said.

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