Kwathu Drama Group has this year clocked 41 years in the theatrical world.
One of the group’s oldest members Eric Mabedi, popularly known as Jakobo, said it has been a long journey which has seen them producing plays that have kept people informed, entertained and educated.
“It has not been easy but God has been our light and we have remained together as a family to keep the Kwathu brand alive,” Mabedi said.
He said they wanted to celebrate their 40th anniversary last year with activities but, due to Covid, they failed to do it.
“Plans are still there to hold celebrations but it will also depend on the situation since Covid cases are on the increase,” Mabedi said.
The popular vernacular drama group recently returned to the stage to premiere their new play titled Ana Akumpanda which was written by another veteran actor Charles Mphoka after a two-year hiatus due to Covid.
Their first performance was in Mulanje before invading Blantyre Cultural Centre where they attracted an impressive audience.
“We got used in the past years to premiere four plays every year but it’s been tough with Covid. We can’t hold performances as we used to do and it’s been tough. Again, things have changed; to hold a show these days, you really need to invest more,” Mabedi said.
Mabedi and Mphoka have been the driving force for Kwathu stitching most of the productions.
“We are doing that as a group and this is also part of bringing variety. I have my own style of writing plays and the same with Charles and if we can bring in the others then we will also have other styles,” he said.
Mabedi said the industry has suffered with Covid and that many drama groups are grounded.
“Our call to the corporate world is to come out and support the creative industry. The situation is not the same as it used to be in the past. Now, you need to invest a lot to put up a production and this is why some groups are not active,” he said.
Mabedi then revealed that they are looking at adapting musician Billy Kaunda’s book— Hills and Valleys for the stage.
“We are currently reading the book and we are looking at utilising it for the stage just like we have done with other books like Njala Bwana by Willie Zingani,” he said.
Two years ago, Mabedi also came out and called upon people to bring out stories for them to craft them into plays.
Despite remaining old-fashioned in their theatrical presentation and not adopting modern styles of theatre, the drama group remains popular.
The group uses simple costume and their style sees actors interacting with the audience during scenes.
Kwathu’s other strength has been their nose for relevant stories affecting the society.