The three-day Easter Theatre Festival ended on an impressive note on Sunday at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre, with Upile Drama Group closing the curtain with their play Muzasiya.
It has been sometime since Upile Drama Group staged a performance but, led by Atate Shadreck Jumaina, the theatre group excited people with the production tackling issues that happen in society.
“The last time we performed was in 2020 before Covid when we brought Mbiri Ndi ya Khoswe and to get back on stage today and get such support, we have been motivated to bring out new productions,” Jumaina said.
He hailed Easter Theatre Festival for giving artists a platform to showcase their talents.
Apart from Jumaina, the cast included Ben Maluwasa, Maureen Tepeka Jumaina, Shelli Sinoya and Steven Chisale.
Being the last day of the festival, which officially opened on Friday, the audience also sampled performances from Dikamawoko, which dished out traditional dances followed by comedy from Sauzande and Zobi whereas Joshua Bhima came in with a play titled Dirt.
There was also a poetry performance from Sylvester Kalizang’oma who offered three of his poems including the popular ‘Unkalindanji Moyo’ and ‘Nayi Nkhata’.
Festival Director McArthur Matukuta, in his closing remarks, described this year’s event as a success and that they managed to reach out to more people including social media.
“With a small budget we managed to give people a feast of performances and I should also commend parents who brought in their children. The children are the ones that will drive these events when we have retired,” Matukuta said.
Matukuta bemoaned lack of interest from fellow artists in patronising workshops.
“We had workshops which are there for artists to learn from each other, share new knowledge and open up opportunities but many artists did not attend. We need to change our mindset. If we are to grow, then we should start being part of workshops,” he said.
Matukuta also called upon fellow creatives to utilise festivals to showcase their works and also search for opportunities.
“It is not about money always; artists need to be paid but, at times, festivals are there to help open doors,” he said.
His outcry comes after some acts which were billed to perform pulled out at the eleventh hour due to disagreements on payment.
Matukuta said the festival next year will be held at the same venue on March 31 to April 2.
Held under the theme ‘Doing Theatre Unusual Way’, the other performances that people sampled over the three days included poetry and contemporary dance fused with traditional dances coming Jacaranda School for Orphans.
There was also a play titled The Divorce which was written by the late Frank Patani Mwase.
The production, which was also staged during Mwase’s memorial in January 2022 at Blantyre Sports Club, excited the audience.
Solomonic Peacocks also presented collaboration pieces with Wales and Germany. The collaboration with Germany, which is still under construction and features among others, Lydia Banda, Matukuta, Mphundu Mjumira and Robert Magasa, will be premiered later this year.