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Malawian actors’ stay in Germany extended to June

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FLASHBACK — The actors rehearse the play before lockdown

The coronavirus lockdown in German has forced five Malawian actors, and others from African countries, who are attending a Theatre Konstanz project to extend their stay in that country for another three weeks.

The five actors Mphundu Mjumira, Dipo Katimba, Maxwell Makande, Noah Bulambo and Felistus Kamloni were supposed to return home on Sunday but are likely to return back on June 15.

But Mjumira cast the shadow of doubt whether the group is likely to return on the said date saying resumption of flights will determine their fate.

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“There is still that uncertainty as to what will happen but the new date is June 15 for now. There are still discussions, more weeks might be added until everything is certain,” he said.

The lockdown has also hampered the premiering of a play King Baabu.

“We cannot perform for now and that is when the idea of a radio play came up, we have finally recorded the play and they are editing it now. There is also another idea of producing short movies for online and we are also in the process of doing one short movie which is being written.

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“We have brainstormed on how to survive as artists, there is also support from people. We can’t do shows but there is always a way to do something and think outside the box. Again unity has also been key, supporting each other and giving each other strength,” he said.

The recorded play is expected to be aired in some of the radio stations in Africa.

Theater Konstanz Assistant Dramaturg, Julia Just, said their central theatrical production of this season – King Baabu which is a satirical play by award winning Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka handles the arbitrary exercise of power and the absurdity behind misused power.

“For this play, we are working together with established actors from Malawi, Togo, Burundi, Tanzania and Congo. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus outbreak, we had to temporarily close our doors, and we could not bring this play on stage as originally planned,” she said.

Just, said since the production has a special meaning to them, they have decided to produce it in the form of a multilingual audio play and reach the international public through radio or similar communication channels.

The play in the style of Alfred Jarry by Soyinka, directed by Arthur Banshayeko sees General Basha Bash take power in a coup d’état and exchanges his general’s uniform for a civilian robe crowning himself as King Baabu. He greedily seizes ministries and offices, puts the country’s banks and treasuries under his control and plunges the country into a civil war.

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