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Jacaranda Cultural Centre samples 2 styles of theatre

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Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre over the weekend played host to two French adapted productions that showed the beauty of theatre.

It was a weekend packaged with several events but theatre lovers could not avoid watching two plays Le Dieu Du Carnage by Yasmina Reza and Les Chaises by Eugene Lonesco.

Six groups which have previously staged their plays at Theatre in Mandala — a platform that aims at growing theatre — namely YDC, Scar of Life, Young Travellers, Umunthu, Solomonic Peacocks and Dikamawoko collaborated, adapting the French plays to English – Le Dieu Du Carnage (Chaos) and Les Chaises (The Chairs).

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Directed by Tawonga Taddja Nkhonjera and Fumbani Phiri, the two plays, which are part of the Francophone project, have a cast made up of Zione Chisale, Flower Joy, Praise Chigwe, Jack Musumba, Lydia Banda and Grace Chanika.

It started with The Chairs on Friday night, with Chigwe and Chanika playing lead roles. This is a play that looks at life from the perspective of an elderly couple in their 90s. Banda and Chisale are supporting acts in the production.

This is absurd theatre, which is synonymous with Samuel’s Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

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Chigwe and Chanika are budding actors but they executed their acting roles well, winning the hearts of the sizeable audience.

In the play, the elderly couple takes people down memory lane on life they used to live, the challenges they encountered and how they met.

The play is in English and Chichewa.

“I enjoyed the play; it took me back to the past years and again, it centres on the subject of the life of elderly people. In most cases, we neglect the elderly and focus much on the younger generation,” one of the theatre lovers said during a critiquing session.

After theatre of absurd on Friday came theatre of realism in Chaos and, just from the title, the play was chaotic.

And just like in The Chairs, the four actors play two families of different classes that come together to discuss an incident involving their respective children, where one hurts the other with a stick and, within the discussion, a lot of issues crop up.

In this production, one gets to appreciate a little bit of French which is used, with a dominance of English and Chichewa.

Musumba said it was challenging starring in the two plays.

“It was tough, especially working on plays which were in French and then translating them to English and Chichewa into fit the Malawian setting. It has been an interesting journey and I have learnt a lot in the whole adaptation process,” he said.

JCC Director Luc Deschamps, who watched the two productions, said he was impressed with the adaptations.

“Theatre has a future; these young actors showed from their acting that they need support and I am impressed,” Deschamps said.

Before the JCC performances, the plays were also staged at Zomba Catholic and St Patricks secondary schools.

Francophone project has been made possible with support from French Embassy in South Africa.

“We are grateful to the French Ambassador in South Africa, to director of Jacaranda Cultural Centre and Maison dela France Luc Deschamps and all directors of ensembles for their participation,” Nkhonjera, who also stars in Chaos, and is Theatre in Mandala curator, said.

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