Young theatre practitioners have called on theatre players in the country to unite and work together to propel the industry.
The players made the call as the country on Friday joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Theatre Day which falls on March 27 every year.
“Celebrating this day is special, I would have loved if we had activities on the ground but due to coronavirus fears and restrictions of less not more than 100 people gathering, it is difficult. I want to take this opportunity to call upon theatre players to jack up and work together,” YDC actor and playwright Fumbani Phiri said.
Phiri said this was the day for theatre players to reflect on the past and plan effectively.
“A lot has been said that theatre has gone down and that people miss the time they used to watch theatre greats such as the late Du Chisiza Jr and Gertrude Webster Kamkwatira. They were great actors but things have changed now and young players have to compete with a lot of things on the ground,” he said.
Another member of YDC, Jack Msumba, a product of Association of Teaching of English in Malawi (Atem), said it was high time theatre was taken seriously.
“This is a career worth pursuing and this is why I am into it as well but we need to lift it and at the same time market it fully. A lot is being done on the ground and I wish if the media helped us probably by creating theatre corners on television,” Msumba said.
Despite not attracting more people as was the case in the past, the country has over the years seen a lot of groups coming out. However a few have managed to sustain themselves, especially in performances.
One of the groups that has been there is Kwathu Drama Group – which this year is celebrating 30 years in the game.
“We are happy with the support we have received over the years and we will keep on doing our best. The challenge at the moment is that of coronavirus fears which has grounded many of us.
For instance, we were supposed to hold performances on Easter but we have postponed them and this will affect our income,” the group’s director, Eric Mabedi said.
Actor and drama lecturer, Misheck Mzumara described the World Theatre Day as important for the industry.
“I also wish to call upon the government and the corporate players to utilise theatre in disseminating messages of coronavirus during this period,” Mzumara said.
Veteran dramatist, Smith Likongwe, who reminded people of his several plays he has stitched over the years on his Facebook page, said in the past the day has passed silently.
“This year let coronavirus remind us that we need to prepare for the day next year. As theatre artists, we have no good excuse for continuing to remain silent not only on this day but in many other occasions as well,” Likongwe said.
The industry continues to produce talent which has seen some of it collaborating with groups in Europe on the international scene.
At the moment, five actors – Noah Bulambo, Mphundu Mjumira, Felistus Kamloni, Maxwell Makande and Dipo Katimba, are in Germany where they are rehearsing for a Theater Konstanz play – King Baabu which was written by Wole Soyinka.
The play is set to tour Europe and also Malawi.
However, its progress has been halted by coronavirus fears.
World Theatre Day was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute.