By Sam Banda Jnr & Faith Kamtambe:
Some of theatre maestro Du Chisiza Jr’s children led by his first born Doreen Chisiza, who is based in United States of America (USA), finally came out to celebrate his life at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Saturday.
The team re-staged his 1994 production De Summer Blow about politics and society which was published into a book in 1998.
Celebrating the life of a man who was born on March 26 1963 and died on February 24 1999, the programme of the show on the night featured several performances including showcasing some clips of his performances that reminded people of Du’s exploits.
De Summer Blow is a story of a brilliant ‘A’ student played by Kelvin Ngoma, who also starred in Chiwetel Ejiofor’s film, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, from a rich family who is introduced to the world of drugs and alcohol and then gets caught up in a web of conflicting parental love and peer pressure.
The cast matched Du’s standards, had the energy on stage and blended well. The costumes and props were on point, strengthened with sound.
Doreen, who played mother, described the show as an extremely beautiful endevour.
“There was no pain that I wasn’t happy to experience, it was so stressful at times, but actually in those moments I reminded myself that you want to do this, and you want to do it for your father and this is my only opportunity to honour him in my own capacity and ability to do so,” she said.
During the show, Doreen introduced to the audience some of her siblings, including Thlupego Chisiza, Khumbata Chisiza, Ngongite Chisiza, Tchumbo Chisiza, Du Chisiza III and Serah Chisiza.
“It’s difficult at the moment for me to continue because I stay very far but if the team would like to continue with the play, I can definitely help and facilitate but I will see how things transpire,” she said.
On the selection of De Summer Blow cast, she said it was easy.
“It was easy for us to do since it is already on the book and we didn’t have to go to the archives and I am glad we chose it. People were laughing to the content made 20 years ago and it shows relevance. De Summer Blow is one of those plays that is exciting and we just wanted to do something that was already out there, Du’s plays stood the test of time and we didn’t change the jokes,” she said.
She also stressed that the play was challenging for them and that they had to undergo massive rehearsals.
“Throwing me in the mix was tough but having Jeremiah Mwaungulu and Edwin Saidi, who worked with my father, they understood the discipline and professionalism required to go ahead and put up a performance. But the group worked really hard and are such a hard working crew,” Doreen said.
Next up for them is another performance at Blantyre Cultural Centre on March 10 2019.
“I am so excited to go to my dad’s home, I call it home because it is where my father’s every play and performance started, it will be amazing because I love playing outside and, maybe, memories will come. I actually haven’t been there since my father died,” she said.
Saidi played Du’s role of grandpa in the play, said it was an honour for him to take a role done by the theatre genius.
“It reminded me of the early Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre years when I was 18 or 20 years. I starred in a number of plays such as Tatuya Futi and Sir Daniels. I would like to thank the cast for putting this together,” Saidi said.
The veteran actor, who directed the play alongside Ben Wandawanda, encouraged fans in Blantyre to join them as they celebrate the life of Du Chisiza Jr.
Misheck Mzumara, who played father, said Doreen was serious about celebrating her father’s life.
“It has been fun and, with hard work, we executed a very good show. ” Mzumara, who is a drama lecturer at Mzuzu University, said.
Wandawanda, who was the host, said he was proud of the cast
Reflecting on Du, who he worked with in several productions, Wandawanda said he was exceptionally gifted.
Musician Kelvin Sings and poet Julius Jules Banda also performed on the night.
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